Haiti burning
Ramon Espinosa  /  AP
A man drives a motorcycle past a barricade of burning tires in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.
By
updated 12/9/2010 2:29:43 PM ET 2010-12-09T19:29:43

Haiti's electoral council will re-count the vote in the country's disputed election in view of election monitors and potentially the three leading candidates themselves, the council president said Thursday.

The decision follows rioting sparked by the announcement that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin and former first lady Mirlande Manigat were poised to enter a January runoff, while entertainer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly had apparently been narrowly eliminated.

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Council president Gaillot Dorsainvil read a statement on Haitian radio saying that tally sheets would be re-counted with international observers and electoral officials.

"Given the evident dissatisfaction of many voters, protests and violence that followed the publication of preliminary results," the Provisional Electoral Council has decided to start a re-count immediately, he said.

Dorsainvil said it would be overseen by a commission including the electoral council, domestic and foreign observers and the three main candidates if they wish.

There was no immediate reaction from the campaigns.

Story: Violence flares as Haiti releases election results

Nearly all 19 candidates, all of whom received votes on the Nov. 28 ballot, have said fraud tainted the results. A coalition of at least 10 candidates reiterated their call Thursday for the vote to be thrown out.

The U.S. Embassy has also said the preliminary results appeared to conflict with reports from observers who monitored the count.

Martelly's supporters again paralyzed streets in the capital on Thursday, piling earthquake rubble into barricades and squaring off with police and U.N. peacekeepers. On Wednesday, the candidate told his supporters to continue demonstrating, and a campaign manager said he would legally challenge the announced results.

Rain and unrest
A light rain that fell through the night and continued through the morning Thursday extinguished many burning piles of tires and dampened the protests. But new fires were lit and barricades still blocked intersections throughout the capital, but Associated Press journalists saw fewer protesters. Gunshots rang out on the central Champ de Mars and injuries were reported.

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The crowd outside the electoral council headquarters in the suburb of Petionville had also diminished.

The protests arise mostly from widespread anger at outgoing President Rene Preval, much of it re-directed at his preferred successor, Celestin, the head of the state-run construction company. Protesters set fire to the headquarters of Preval's Unity party, traded blows with U.N. peacekeepers and shut down the country's lone international airport.

Preval urged candidates to call off the protests on Wednesday. He acknowledged there had been fraud in the election, but said it was typical of elections around the world.

His own election was also decided through riots in 2006.

Ramon Espinosa  /  AP
A man walks past a barricade of burning tires and rocks blocking a street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

Backed by supporters of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been ousted two years before, Preval was swept into office when widespread rioting forced the cancellation of a second-round vote through a compromise that gave him more than 50 percent of the vote.

Those supporters turned on him when he failed to bring Aristide, his former mentor, back from South African exile or improve the economy. Riots fueled by high food prices forced out his prime minister in 2008. His popularity bottomed out when Preval disappeared from public sight after the Jan. 12 earthquake and presided over a stalled reconstruction that has helped few people regain homes or income.

"We stood up for Preval then, but now we stand up against him. We thought he would bring us food, education, health ... We thought he would stand for the people. But he betrayed us," said Clarel Meriland, an unemployed 23 year old who took the streets as a teenager in 2006.

Claims of fraud
In the Nov. 28 vote, thousands of voters could not find their names on rolls still swollen with earthquake dead and there were incidents of violence, ballot-box stuffing and intimidation filmed and photographed by journalists and confirmed by international elections monitors.

Just over 1 million people cast accepted ballots out of some 4.7 million registered voters. It is not known how many ballots were thrown out for fraud.

The election was mandated by Haiti's constitution. But there were many human-rights advocates who said it should not be held so soon after the earthquake, in the midst of a raging cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives.

The fallout from this week's violence has shut down cities across Haiti, hindering medical aid workers' ability to tackle cholera.

Haiti's Radio Kiskeya said in an unconfirmed report that at least four demonstrators were killed — three in Les Cayes, west of Port-au-Prince in the country's southern peninsula, and one in the northern city of Cap-Haitien.

Slideshow: Violence in Haiti (on this page)

Preliminary election results put Celestin ahead of Martelly by just 6,845 votes for second place. Former first lady and law professor Manigat had 31.4 percent of the vote, while Celestin had 22.5 percent and Martelly 21.8 percent.

The top two candidates advance to a Jan. 16 second round.

Manigat also told Haitian radio that she felt her reported vote tally was low. Celestin's managers said before the election that they had expected both a first-round victory and to be accused of fraud.

American Airlines continued its suspension of flights in and out of the Haitian capital because airport employees were unable to get to work.

___

Associated Press writer Jacob Kushner in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Fury over election creates flashpoint in Haiti

  1. Transcript of: Fury over election creates flashpoint in Haiti

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: happen to know how many of you were so generous to Haiti following our coverage of the earthquake there. Haiti , as you know, has remained a very sad place. Recovery has been so slow and now cholera has been spreading so fast, and now violence has erupted there. We mentioned earlier, American Airlines has stopped all flights in and out. Both airports are closed. A lot of roads are barricaded, and moving around is not safe. Our own Ann Curry is in Haiti and has our report tonight. Ann :

    ANN CURRY reporting: Brian , thousands took to the streets here, accusing Haiti 's ruling party of election fraud. And UN forces engaged, at one point using flash grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets. Fury poured into the streets of Haiti 's capital Port -au-Prince just minutes after results of the presidential election 10 days ago were announced. Protestors burned tires, set up roadblocks and torched vehicles. Most of the rage comes from supporters of presidential hopeful Michel Martelly . They say their man was cheated and received more than the 21 percent of the vote announced by the electoral council. They also accuse the ruling party of Haiti 's current president Rene Preval of rigging the vote in favor of their candidate, who polls show was not expected to come close to winning. And many believe the ruling party stole the votes of people killed in Haiti 's catastrophic January earthquake but were still registered to vote. Some 230,000 people died that day. The party's headquarters was burned. NBC 's Frank Thorp in Port -au-Prince witnessed scenes of chaos.

    Mr. FRANK THORP (Producer): So Americans, expatriates, foreigners are locking themselves into their houses because right now it's not a safe situation. All the stores are closed, boarded up because of the violence. Those stores that were not boarded up, their windows have been smashed. Buildings have been vandalized and the streets are completely impassable. Cars can't drive. The roads are completely blocked off.

    CURRY: Adding to the election anger is a cholera epidemic, which appears to be worsening. According to Haitian health officials, about 2100 people have now died from cholera since the outbreak of the disease in October. And a new estimate by the World Health Organization projects about 650,000 Haitians will contract the disease within the next six months. And tonight the US Embassy warned the situation remains dangerous and advised US citizens to stay indoors

    until conditions stabilize. Brian: Ann Curry in Haiti for us tonight. Ann , thanks for

    WILLIAMS:

Photos: Violence in Haiti

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  1. U.N. peacekeepers fire rubber bullets at protesters as they ride through a barricade in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Friday, Dec. 10. There have been days of rioting over disputed presidential election results. The handpicked protege of President Rene Preval, Jude Celestin, narrowly won a place in a runoff against former Haitian first lady Mirlande Manigat. Michel Martelly finished third, according to election authorities, and that result set off protests. (Guillermo Arias / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A relative of man who was shot in the head during clashes between presidential candidates' supporters reacts in downtown Port-au-Prince, Dec. 9. (Ramon Espinosa / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Supporters of presidential candidate Michel Martelly take part in a protest in Petion Ville, Dec. 9. Haiti's electoral authorities said on Thursday they would urgently recheck vote tally sheets to try to defuse anger over the results. (Str / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A police officer stands in front of detained supporters of presidential candidate Michel Martelly during riots in Port-au-Prince, Dec. 9. (Ramon Espinosa / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A woman overwhelmed by tear gas released by U.N. troops is carried to a Red Cross clinic in Port-au-Prince, Dec. 8. (Allison Shelley / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A Haitian sets up a barricade of burning tires while holding a banner of presidential candidate Michel Martelly in front of the national palace in Port-au-Prince on Dec. 8. (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A policeman stands guard while demonstrators march in Port-au-Prince on Dec. 8. (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Supporters of presidential candidate Michel Martelly demonstrate in Port-au-Prince. (Guillermo Arias / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Looters rummage through the campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Jude Celestin of the ruling party in Port-au- Prince. (Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Police at the burning campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Jude Celestin in Port-au- Prince. (Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A Haitian holds a poster of presidential candidate Michel Martelly during a protest in Port-au-Prince. (Kena Betancur / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A burned-out vehicle blocks a street Port-au-Prince. (Hector Retamal / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Haitian police run past burning tires during riots in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, Dec. 7, following the release of preliminary election results. Protests and sporadic gunfire erupted in Haiti's capital after electoral authorities announced the country's inconclusive presidential election would go to a run-off vote. (Allison Shelley / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image:
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    Above: Slideshow (13) Violence in Haiti
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    Slideshow (32) Cholera outbreak in Haiti

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