Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Protests follow Haitian Elections

On Monday, irate protesters demanding the final results of the February 7 general election in Haiti erected roadblocks across Port-au-Prince and occupied the Montana Hotel in Petionville in the hills east of the capital, where election officials had been announcing the results. Barricades made of old tires were set afire across the capital, sending smoke into the sky while protesters allowed only journalists and Red Cross vehicles to pass. One protester was killed but UN peacekeepers denied witness accounts that they were responsible.

René Garcia Préval, the clear winner with about 90 percent of the votes counted, returned to the capital for the first time since the election. His supporters claimed that electoral officials were tampering with results to prevent him from getting the majority he needs to avoid a runoff. Préval had obtained 48.7 percent of the vote, according to the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Haiti’s Electoral Council). His closest opponent, former president Leslie Manigat, had garnered 11.8 percent. According to press reports, about 125,000 of the 2.2 million ballots cast have been declared invalid because of irregularities, raising suspicion among Préval supporters that polling officials were rigging the election. Another 4 percent of the ballots were reportedly blank but were still added into the total, making it more difficult for Préval to obtain the 50 percent plus one vote needed. The Director-General of the Electoral Council, denied accusations that the council voided many votes for Preval.

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