Haitians Protest Election Results

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CBC News

Haitians Protest Election Results

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Residents run as they protest in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday. (Kena Betancur/Reuters)

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Haitians
are setting fires and taking to the barricades as thousands of people
protest the results of the country's presidential election.

Furious protesters in the capital, Port-au-Prince, were reported to
have set fire to the headquarters of the ruling political party on
Wednesday.

"[Protesters have] got barricades all around the city," CBC's Connie
Watson reported. "You can't move in a vehicle. You can only get around
in a moto-taxi or by foot, and that is becoming a very dangerous
proposition."

Watson said big chunks of concrete littered many roads Wednesday,
meaning only pedestrians or motorbikes can pick their way through the
debris.

The protests first erupted Tuesday, after the provisional electoral
council said none of the candidates had won an outright majority in the
first round of voting.

Mirlande Manigat, a professor and wife of a former president, claimed
31 per cent of the votes, followed by the government-backed candidate
Jude Celestin, with 22 per cent, officials said.

Michel Martelly, a popular musician also known as Sweet Micky, came in just behind Celestin with slightly more than 21 per cent.

A contact in Cité Soleil, Haiti's largest slum, said there were
shootings and two possible casualties as Celestin supporters clashed
with Martelly supporters, Watson said.

She said most businesses are not open and many workers and children
are staying home for the day, adding that there were reports of protests
in Cap Haitien and Les Cailles.

American Airlines said Wednesday it has halted flights in and out of
the Haitian capital because airport employees were unable to get to work
because of the demonstrations.

"Martelly tried to call a news conference last night but then called
it off for security reasons, so we expect to hear from him today for
sure," Watson said.

The election is expected to go to a run-off on Jan. 16, but it's not
clear whether Martelly will be allowed to join the top two candidates on
the ballot.

The Nov. 28 election was marred by reports of fraud and blatant
ballot-box stuffing, and many of the 19 presidential candidates had
called for the vote to be cancelled.

Concerns
about the vote centred 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.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti published a statement Tuesday expressing concern about the results and calling for calm.

"The United States, together with Haiti's international community
partners, stands ready to support efforts to thoroughly review
irregularities in support of electoral results that are consistent with
the will of the Haitian people expressed in their votes, " the statement
said.

Haiti is trying to contain a deadly cholera outbreak that has claimed
more than 2,000 lives, and is still struggling to rebuild after a
powerful earthquake flattened parts of the country in January.

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

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