Haiti can­di­date to chal­lenge elec­tion re­sults

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

PORT-AU-PRINCE: A pop­u­lar singer vowed to legally chal­lenge elec­tion re­sults that nar­rowly ousted him from Haiti's pres­i­den­tial race, while his sup­port­ers bar­ri­caded streets and set fires in vi­o­lence that threat­ened the frag­ile sta­bil­ity that fol­lowed a dev­as­tat­ing Jan. 12 earth­quake.

Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly urged his back­ers on Wed­nes­day to non­vi­o­lently protest re­sults from Nov. 28 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions that demon­stra­tors say were rigged. His cam­paign man­ager later said they would for­mally chal­lenge the tal­lies re­leased late Tues­day to Haiti's Pro­vi­sional Elec­toral Coun­cil.

His sup­port­ers car­ried pink signs with the smil­ing face and bald head of Martelly, built street bar­ri­cades, chal­lenged heav­ily ar­mored for­eign sol­diers and used govern­ment cam­paign posters to start fires.

"We want Martelly. The whole world wants Martelly," said James Bec­imus, a 32-yearold pro­tester near the U.S. Em­bassy. "To­day we set fires, to­mor­row we bring weapons."

Other pro­test­ers said they would con­tinue to mobilize but do so non­vi­o­lently.

"Demon­strat­ing with­out vi­o­lence is the right of the peo­ple," Martelly said. "I will be with you un­til the bald-head vic­tory."

Out­side the elec­toral coun­cil head­quar­ters in the sub­urb of Pe­tionville, young men wear­ing their shirts as masks threw rocks at U.N. troops. The sol­diers - In­di­ans and Pak­ista­nis work­ing as a sin­gle unit - re­sponded with ex­plod­ing can­is­ters of tear gas that washed over a nearby earth­quake-refugee camp, send­ing moth­ers run­ning from their tarps with their cry­ing, cough­ing chil­dren in tow.

Pro­test­ers set fire to the head­quar­ters of out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Rene Preval's Unity party, traded blows with U.N. peace­keep­ers and shut down the coun­try's lone in­ter­na­tional air­port.

Preval had ear­lier urged the can­di­dates to call off the protests. He ac­knowl­edged there had been fraud in the elec­tion, but said it was typ­i­cal of elec­tions around the world.

"This is not how the coun­try is sup­posed to work," he told demon­stra­tors in a live ra­dio speech. "Peo­ple are suf­fer­ing be­cause of all this dam­age." The fall­out from the fraud-rid­dled shut down cities across im­pov­er­ished Haiti at a moment when med­i­cal aid work­ers need to tackle a surg­ing cholera epi­demic that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Haiti's Ra­dio Kiskeya said in an un­con­firmed re­port that at least four demon­stra­tors were killed - three in Les Cayes, about 120 miles (193 kilo­me­ters) west of Port-au-Prince in the coun­try's south­ern penin­sula, and one in the north­ern city of Cap-Hai­tien. -Ap

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