Candidates cry fraud in Haitian electoral crisis

Vote goes ahead despite claims of fraud

The elections in Haiti were thrown into turmoil, with fears of impending violence, after the main opposition candidates for the presidency demanded the cancellations of the polls following widespread reports of fraud and intimidation leaving thousands disenfranchised.



Angry street protests began after rival hopefuls united to charge the outgoing President René Préval with attempting to engineer the anointing of his chosen successor, Jude Celestin, as the country's leader amid systematic malpractice. The dramatic development followed a day which saw victims of the cholera epidemic ferried past polling stations where people long dead exercised voting rights; batches of ballot boxes disappeared while others were stuffed with false papers. Elsewhere, gunfire punctuated the rally of a leading candidate.

To add to the near-farcical note even Mr Celestin, the supposed beneficiary of the alleged fraud, found that his name was not on the voters' list at his polling station, necessitating a proxy vote on his behalf by the country's electoral council.

The disruption accompanying the elections, the first since the devastating earthquakes which claimed more than 230,000 lives and left 1.3 million homeless, led to a stream of people, already refugees in their own country, moving out of their vast tented camps in the capital, Port-au-Prince, for what they considered to be the relative safety of the countryside.

Health officials expressed concern that any large scale move away from the cities would hamper the attempts to control the spreading cholera epidemic, which has killed around 2,000 with another 29,000 receiving treatment, and put additional strain on already overstretched medical resources.

A statement backed by all the leading candidates, other than Mr Celestin, was read out at a press conference saying "It is clear that Préval was not prepared for elections" to a crowd which chanted back "Arrest Préval" before singing the national anthem.

Many of them claimed to have been turned away from polling stations. At Cité Soleil, a ghetto of desperate poverty, there were also claims that activists for rival candidates were taking advantage of a lack of literacy among the local electorate to steal votes.

Paul Lernier, a 42-year-old mechanic, could not find his name on the register despite having the appropriate documents. "Look, I have got the papers here," he cried waving them. "But they say that this name may not be mine; it may be that of a dead person. I have other proof, but they will not accept it. Yet I have seen at least four names of people who are certainly dead. I went to the funeral of one of them.

"Now I am going to go out on the streets and demand my rights. I will do whatever is necessary."

Standing beside him, Pierre Magaine added: "This is a very poor area and there is a problem that a lot of people cannot read or write. Party officials are taking advantage of that and taking and giving them wrong directions."

At the nearby Lycée Fritz-Pierre Luis polling station, Antoine Carlos said he did not want to hide the fact that identities of the dead have turned up in the voters' register. "This is a sobering situation," he said. "It seems fraud is being used to make sure there is not an election but selection by some people."

The four leading candidates out of a field of 19 have all accused each other of buying votes and intimidation. Massive amounts have been spent by the rivals, with Jude Celestin, the successor chosen by the outgoing President René Préval – who cannot stand for a third term under the constitution – reportedly using up a war chest of close to $20m (£13m).

The opinion polls put Mr Celestin – who heads a reconstruction company which ferries the bodies of cholera victims – neck and neck with Michel Martelly, a former cross-dressing kompa jazz artiste also known as "Sweet Micky", and Mirlande Manigat, a 70-year-old Sorbonne-trained academic, and the wife of the former president Leslie Manigat, who was deposed in a 1988 military coup. On the eve of polling, Mr Martelly said an attempt had been made to assassinate him at a public meeting.

Charles Henry Baker, a millionaire industrialist, is said to be trailing behind. The lack of a clear winner in yesterday's voting would mean a run-off between the two with the highest backing in mid-January next year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Support Technician

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Graduate Front End Developer

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...

Guru Careers: Customer Support Advisor

Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food