Less than two hours before the official closing of voting in Haiti’s general elections, 12 out of 18 candidates for the presidential seat called for the elections to be immediately canceled due to fraud and inability of many citizens to cast their votes.
At a press conference at Caribe hotel in the capital Port-au-Prince, candidates including Mirlande Manigat, Charles Henry Baker, John Henry Ceant, Jacques E. Alexis Michel Martelly, Eric Charles signed a joint statement, urging the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to annul the elections, according to the website Haiti Elections 2010, an independent site supported by the U.S. and Germany. The website was giving almost minute-by-minute Twitter-style updates of the proceedings throughout the day.
Notably absent from the group was Jude Celestine, who is from the same party as and backed by outgoing President Rene Preval.
Shortly after the press conference started, or approximately 1.5 hours before polls were due to close at 4 p.m., the CEP chairman announced that elections polling stations would remain open as scheduled, Haiti Elections 2010 reported. Polling stations opened at 10 a.m. instead of the planned 6 a.m.
The declaration by the candidates appealed to the Haitian population to take the streets for peaceful protests and to show their anger against the government.
A crowd of protesters had already gathered in front of the hotel during the conference singing the national anthem and shouting “Preval step down” and “Arrest Preval.” Wyclef Jean—hip-hop superstar and denied presidential candidate—was in crowd.
One of the front-runners, the 70-year-old former first lady Mirlande Manigat called the polls “fraudulent” and said that “ballot boxes had been stuffed with votes before polls opened”, BBC reported.
The aggrieved candidates said that political parties will meet on Monday to come up with a solution.
Media reported widespread irregularities at polling stations, mostly set up in makeshift tents also used as schoolrooms. Numerous voters could not cast their votes because their names were missing from the lists. Some tried five or six stations, but were still turned down. Many stations were attended with more workers and observers than voters. Jude Celestine himself was turned down at a station, AP reported.
More than half of 400,000 national identification cards—out of 4.7 million Haitians eligible to vote— remained undistributed before Sunday’s polls, reported the New York Times, depriving those voters the chance to exercise their democratic rights.
Elections proceeded relatively peacefully, although there were reports of several cases of violence.
In the towns of Acul du Nord and Trou du Nord, near Haiti’s second largest city Cap-Haitien, people shot in the air and attacked a voting station. Voting was suspended after several men ruined six polling stations with machetes, AFP reported. Another 30 vented their anger in a station in the Tabarre district of the capital, after being turned down, as their names were missing on the voters’ list.
Elections results are not expected before Dec 5, with official data to be announced on Dec 20.
Eighteen candidates vied for the presidency, 96 ran for 11 senate seats, and 800 ran for the 99 seats in the lower house. If no presidential candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round, a run-off will be scheduled for Jan. 16.
Voter turn out was expected to be less than 40 percent due to the current cholera epidemic and general institutional disorganization. It’s the first poll since the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake last Jan. 12.
And now the hypocrites Manigat and Martelly are taking advantage of the Preval-generated fraud to rape the nation.
The real winners were Jean Henry Ceant and Charles baker, with Ale4xis and Martelly following behind. Celestin and Manigat both had something like 2%.
And the international community wants us to accept this larged, aged, fat, arrogant housewife??!!
Time for everyone to wake up and smell the roses.
Preval must go.
A new, independent CEP must be named,
A transitional government put in place,
Then we should have a well-managed, supervised and controlled election in which the Haitian peoples’ will is reflected.