Gunfire Erupts As Haiti Issues Early Election Results
(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Jason, what have you seen?
JASON BEAUBIEN: People right now are chanting. These are supporters of Michel Martelly, the candidate who has been eliminated, according to the official election results from this race. People say that Michel Martelly was robbed of this, and Martelly himself, during the actual campaign, on election day, gathered another 11 candidates and came out claiming that electoral fraud was happening on election day. Now, his supporters say that's what's actually happened. He lost be just a few thousand votes and didn't make it into the runoff, which will be held on January 16th.
INSKEEP: Jason, do the protesters appear to have any objective? Are they going after any particular government facility, for example?
BEAUBIEN: They aren't really going after any particular government facility, but they say that if in the next few hours this result isn't overturned, that they are just going to take to the streets. And some people are saying that there's going to be even more violence, that they're going to trash things. Already, the streets are strewn with trash. There are barricades. Cars are not moving around. The police are clearly not in control. You occasionally do see police, but they are not attempting to push back these people or these protestors or sort of contain them in any way.
INSKEEP: And what does it mean that the United States has very quickly weighed in on this? The U.S. embassy has already said that they are questioning the results of this election in which some candidates were eliminated.
BEAUBIEN: This just throws a whole other ball into this - into the field. The U.S. embassy usually is very cautious about making any statements. They came out within an hour and a half after these election results were released and said that they are concerned that these government officials - that the election officials released results that they say are inconsistent with what all of the international observers and national observers saw on election day. A very unusual move by the U.S. embassy to come out so strongly and express their concerns over an election that clearly is contested and that is causing, at this moment, huge protests in the streets of Port-au-Prince.
INSKEEP: Jason, I'd like to know, other than the protest, is there some due process that can apply here? Is there a method for a recount or a court proceeding that could resolve this dispute?
BEAUBIEN: So these are the official preliminary results. And by preliminary, that means that the candidates have 72 hours to contest these results. So we certainly expect that Michel Martelly is going to do that sometime today. He actually called a press conference late last night and then had to hastily cancel it for security reasons, as people just took to the streets and it was impossible to move through the streets of Port-au-Prince last night. So we do expect that to move forward. But at the moment, Port-au-Prince is completely shut down by these protests for Michel Martelly.
INSKEEP: Jason, thanks very much.
BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.
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