vendredi 10 décembre 2010

Haiti Readies for Post-Election Clashes

By AP / JONATHAN M. KATZ Friday, Dec. 10, 2010 (PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) — Haitians prepared for armed clashes and more days of flaming barricades as rival candidates called on supporters to take to streets and tip the balance in a sharply disputed presidential election.
Gunfire ripped through post-earthquake shanties near the ruins of the national palace on Thursday afternoon, killing at least one man and injuring several more, witnesses said. Third-place candidate and carnival singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly blamed the attack on supporters of government-backed candidate Jude Celestin, who is edging him out by less than 1 percentage point for a spot in a January run-off.
The provisional electoral council announced a seeming compromise on Thursday afternoon with a re-count of tally sheets at which international observers and the three leading candidates — Celestin, Martelly and first-place vote-getter and former first lady Mirlande Manigat — could attend.
But the situation appeared to continue worsening.
The United States reissued a travel warning recommending all U.S. citizens reconsider nonessential trips to Haiti — citing high crime, the cholera outbreak and social unrest. Canada closed its embassy until further notice because of the post-electoral violence. Flights were canceled in and out of the capital's international airport.
The Nov. 28 election hobbled by disorganization, voter intimidation and fraud alleged by every active candidate in the race. Less than a quarter of eligible voters are said to have cast valid ballots.
Martelly was long popular as a carnival leader and singer of kompa, a jazzy Haitian dance music he blended with R&;B and satiric lyrics. His political popularity took off in the weeks before the vote and seems to have surged since it appeared he had been narrowly disqualified from the race.
Pro-Martelly riots began Tuesday night immediately following the announcement of results that ostensibly eliminated him from the second-round runoff. The demonstrations were rowdy but violence was mostly directed at property and symbols of opposing candidates. Rocks were thrown at well-armored U.N. soldiers who have responded with a constant barrage of exploding tear gas canisters and rubber bullets.
Port-au-Prince and other cities including Les Cayes and Cap-Haitien have been paralyzed by barricades, which are sharply criticized by aid workers impeded from treating an ongoing cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people. Casualty figures are sketchy but radio reports say that several people have been killed.
Large-scale demonstrations were also reported in the volatile northwestern city of Gonaives. Former rebel leader Guy Philippe took to the airways to further fan the flames, accusing all candidates of having cheated in the election.
Celestin made a rare television appearance on Thursday night to call for the mobilization of his supporters and an end to the riots and destruction of property. "I guarantee you, your vote will not be trampled on," he said in an edited, taped appearance in which he often seemed to be reading cue cards. "We have already taken measures to ensure the (electoral council) will respect our votes."
Associated Press writer Jacob Kushner in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2036356,00.html#ixzz17kP3l021

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