Fu­ri­ous protests greet Haiti elec­tion re­sults

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

PORT-AU-PRINCE: Fu­ri­ous sup­port­ers of elim­i­nated can­di­dates set fires and put up bar­ri­cades in the streets of Haiti's cap­i­tal af­ter of­fi­cials an­nounced that govern­ment pro­tege Jude Ce­lestin and for­mer first lady Mir­lande Mani­gat would ad­vance to a sec­ond-round runoff in pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

The re­sults an­nounced late Tues­day were im­me­di­ately ques­tioned at home and abroad, threat­en­ing more un­rest for a coun­try wracked by a cholera epi­demic and still re­cov­er­ing from a dev­as­tat­ing Jan. 12 earth­quake.

Pop­u­lar car­ni­val singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly trailed Ce­lestin by about 6,800 votes - less than 1 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults re­leased by Haiti's Pro­vi­sional Elec­toral Coun­cil.

Martelly sup­port­ers set up flam­ing bar­ri­cades near the Pe­tionville res­tau­rant where the tal­lies were an­nounced and threw rocks at peo­ple pass­ing nearby. Gun­shots rang out and an As­so­ci­ated Press jour­nal­ist was robbed. "If they don't give us Martelly and Mani­gat (in the sec­ond round), Haiti will be on fire," said a pro­tester, Erick Jean. "We're still liv­ing un­der tents and Ce­lestin wastes money on elec­tion posters."

Ra­dio Kiskeya re­ported protests out­side Port-au-Prince in the Haitian cities of CapHai­tien and Les Cayes.

Much of the con­cern cen­tered around con­flicts be­tween the an­nounced re­sults and those re­ported re­cently by a lo­cal elec­tion mon­i­tor­ing group fi­nanced by the Euro­pean Union - the Na­tional Ob­ser­va­tion Coun­cil - which said that Ce­lestin, who is backed by out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Rene Preval, would be elim­i­nated.

"The Govern­ment of the United States is concerned by the Pro­vi­sional Elec­toral Coun­cil's an­nounce­ment of pre­lim­i­nary re­sults ... that are in­con­sis­tent with the pub­lished re­sults of the Na­tional Elec­tion Ob­ser­va­tion Coun­cil" as well as U.S. ob­servers and vote counts mon­i­tored by do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional ob­servers, the U.S. Em­bassy said in an emailed state­ment. The Nov. 28 elec­tion was plagued by al­le­ga­tions of fraud. Thou­sands of vot­ers were dis­en­fran­chised by con­fu­sion on the rolls and there were many re­ported in­ci­dents of bal­lot-stuff­ing, vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion con­firmed by in­ter­na­tional ob­servers. Of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edged the rolls were both "bloated" and "in­com­plete," with hun­dreds of thou­sands of earth­quake dead still reg­is­tered and many liv­ing vot­ers wait­ing for ID cards. In the last days of count­ing, tab­u­la­tors had to sort out clearly fraud­u­lent tally sheets. U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon said the prob­lems were worse than orig­i­nally re­ported. -Reuters

BERN: Geneva state Pres­i­dent Mark Mueller (R), newly elected Swiss Pres­i­dent for 2011 For­eign Min­is­ter Miche­line Calmy-Rey (C) and Pres­i­dent of the Swiss Na­tional Coun­cil Jean-Rene Ger­manier pose be­fore break­ing a pinata. -Reuters

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