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Violence erupts on announcement of provisional results

Video by Jonathan CRANE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-12-08

Provisional results of the November 28 Haitian elections have not gone down well on the streets of Port-au-Prince, where supporters of opposition candidates are protesting amid allegations of fraud.

Hundreds of protesters were out on the streets of Haitian capital Port-au-Prince Wednesday, a day after provisional results of the first round of a presidential election were announced amid allegations of fraud.

Former first lady Mirlande Manigat garnered 31.37 percent of the vote, ahead of government technocrat Jude Celestin with 22.48 percent, while popular musician Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly trailed third with 21.84 percent, according to Haiti’s electoral commission.

“There is no surprise with Manigat’s lead - she is an extremely popular and well-known political figure here,” RFI correspondent Amélie Baron reported for FRANCE 24.

“The big shock has been the qualification of Jude Celestin for the second round, and the fact that his score was so close to Martelly’s, at less than a percentage point ahead. They did not reflect opinion polls taken before the vote, and the exclusion of Martelly from the second round has certainly shocked many people,” Baron added.

The polls, undertaken by an EU observation mission, gave Manigat a clear lead, with Martelly second, ahead of Celestin.

Celestin is a protégé of outgoing President President Preval, who is unpopular among Haitians because of his perceived weak response to January’s earthquake and the subsequent cholera epidemic.

Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council announced the preliminary results nine days after the November 28 presidential and legislative vote.

Manigat and Celestin will face off in a run-off vote scheduled for February 14.

Violence

As soon as the results were announced, they were immediately challenged by Martelly, who accused Preval of trying to “steal the election” through fraud and by manipulating the Electoral Council.

Violence, led by Martelly supporters, erupted soon afterwards across the capital.

“Barricades of burning car tyres blocked access routes to the capital, and sporadic gunfire could be heard throughout the city,” Amélie Baron reported.

“The police and the UN troops patrolling the streets seem completely unable to contain this eruption of anger,” she said.

On Wednesday morning hundreds of protesters were blocking streets with burning barricades, shouting slogans in support of Martelly.

Fraud allegations

UN spokesman for Haiti Michel Forst told FRANCE 24 that while he was “deeply concerned” about the violence, “it should be remembered that the results are provisional and the actual results will not be announced until December 20.”

Forst said that getting the results out by then would be a tough job amid “widespread and substantiated incidents of fraud.”

Thousands of voters were turned away due to confusion over voting lists, while international observers confirmed numerous incidences of ballot-stuffing, violence and intimidation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday that irregularities in the vote were worse than previously thought. UN Haiti spokesman Forst added, “We want this election to be as clear and transparent as possible, and we will take time to investigate all allegations of fraud.”

Haiti's Cholera Epidemic
The international community had been hoping successful elections would increase stability in the troubled Caribbean country, which suffered a devastating earthquake in January, killing up to 250,000 people.

Poverty-stricken Haiti has also been battling a cholera epidemic that has left at least 2,000 people dead.
 

Date created : 2010-12-08

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