Angry voters allege fraud, candidates reject election (Roundup)
By Silvia Ayuso Nov 29, 2010, 2:50 GMT
Port-au-Prince - Thousands of frustrated Haitian voters took their protests to the streets of capital Port-au-Prince Sunday after 12 of 18 presidential candidates cried foul over the vote, alleging mass fraud.
However, Gaillot Dorsinvil, president of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), told a press conference in Port-au-Prince, 'The polling day is closed and has been successful.'
Haitians voted Sunday in key presidential and legislative elections. The victors will face the formidable task of rebuilding a country shattered by the January earthquake and currently battling a raging cholera epidemic.
The demonstration started with a few hundred people in the Petion Ville neighbourhood, where candidates including favourite Mirlande Manigat, star singer Michel Martelly and Charles-Henri Baker called for the election to be declared null and void.
Gradually, thousands of people joined them. The demonstrators were reportedly trying to reach the presidential palace in the city centre.
Also present in the throng was Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean - who was prevented from running because he did not fulfil requirements.
'The next step is to make sure that all the votes are counted,' Jean told reporters. 'This is all proof. There are more than 250,000 people here.'
The crowd shouted slogans against the outgoing government of President Rene Preval, whom they accused of orchestrating massive electoral fraud.
The demonstration was intended to make sure that Haiti 'respects the vote of the people and designates the president that people want, Michel Martelly,' Jean said.
Long delays in opening polling stations, allegations of irregularities and confusion over voter lists marred the election from very early in the day.
At least three polling stations in Port-au-Prince opened between four to six hours behind schedule, the German Press Agency dpa observed.
'We want to vote! Preval has voted and we haven't,' one voter complained at a polling station near the airport.
One foreign journalist said he saw the head of a polling station open ballots before placing them in the ballot box in the Cite Soleil neighbourhood.
If the ballot was not in favour of the party preferred by the woman, she tore it up, the journalist claimed.
Sources at the United Nations' Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) admitted there were incidents in several parts of the country, and that people were 'worried.'
It was not clear how many of the 4.7 million eligible voters were able to cast their ballots, given that many hadn't received their identification cards, which were lost in the earthquake.
'These are the worst elections I have ever seen,' an international observer told dpa.
In some places - mainly camps for those displaced by the earthquake - many people didn't know where they needed to go to cast their vote.
'People will vote, we can see that, the motivation is there, I can see the will of the Haitian people to vote and to take their destiny into their own hands,' Edmond Mulet, head of MINUSTAH, told journalists on Saturday.
There were calls for postponement given the chaos after the earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people and the cholera epidemic.
But the international community pushed for the elections despite predictions of mass fraud, threats of election-related violence and clashes between protesters and UN troops.
The presidential elections featured 18 candidates hoping to follow the unpopular Preval, who is barred by the constitution from seeking a third term.
Also on the ballot were 912 candidates from 66 political parties who were bidding for legislative seats. Eleven seats in the Senate and 99 seats in the lower house are up for grabs.
Provisional results are expected December 7, with official results coming 13 days later.
Read more about Haiti Elections