Protests and clashes as Haitians await vote results

Several protestors have been killed in factional clashes in the week since voting in Haiti.

Port-Au-Prince: Hundreds of people protested
against recent elections in Haiti, and a police official said several have been killed in factional clashes in the week
since the vote.

"We have counted five bodies from the clashes in the
Grand-Ravine district south of the capital... but there must
be more," a national police inspector told AFP yesterday on
condition of anonymity.

"We have heard gunfire since November 27," the eve of the
vote, he added.

Election commission head Pierre Louis Opont said it would
release the initial results of the vote today or tomorrow, as
Haitians hoped for new leaders who could rebuild the western
hemisphere`s poorest country.

Candidates and opposition leaders have meanwhile mounted
protests in the capital accusing President Rene Preval`s
government of rigging elections in the earthquake-smashed
country that is fighting a growing cholera epidemic.

"Arrest Rene Preval! Dismiss the Provisional Electoral
Council!" the protesters shouted yesterday as they neared the
presidential palace, which was destroyed by a massive January
earthquake that killed 250,000 people.

"It was not an election, but a selection... Jude
Celestin`s men stuffed the ballot boxes," one protester said
about Sunday`s vote, referring to the governing party`s
They also chanted against Edmond Mulet, head of the UN
mission in Haiti, which is widely accused of having brought
the cholera that has killed nearly 1,900 people since
mid-October and compounded the country`s woes.

Opponents of the march heckled them until riot police
moved in to break up the anti-Preval protesters with tear gas.
In the ensuing melee a UN truck holding Brazilian peacekeepers
was pelted with rocks.
International observers said the election was credible
despite incidents of violence, fraud and other mishaps, but
several candidates have accused Preval loyalists of rigging
the vote for his preferred candidate.

The final results are expected on December 20 with a
likely mid-January runoff between leading contenders.