STEVE INSKEEP, host:
We're going next, to Haiti, which tried to elect a president yesterday. The election disintegrated into street protests after 12 of 18 presidential candidates said the balloting was riddled with fraud. Before the poll had even closed, the candidates said that they would not accept the results. Now after an earthquake and a cholera outbreak, Haiti is faced with a major political crisis. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from Port-au-Prince.
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JASON BEAUBIEN: The protests, for the most part, were peaceful and had a festive feel to them. But their message was serious. Thousands of Haitians took to the streets of cities across the country, denouncing the elections that had just taken place. In the capital, the majority of the demonstrators were supporters of presidential frontrunner Michel Sweet Micky Martelly. They waved pink placards adorned with Martellys bald head.
Mr. SANOT FRITZNER: Theres a lot of conspiracy today. Everywhere you go to vote they stop you, they say, you cant vote.
BEAUBIEN: Sanot Fritzner was in the crowd of hundreds of people in the Delmas section of Port au Prince. Fritzner said the current government of President Rene Preval rigged the voting to favor the ruling partys candidate, Jude Celestin.
Mr. FRITZNER: You know what Im saying they tried. Preval and Jude Celestin they tried everything they can today to take that power today, and we are not going to let that happen today.
BEAUBIEN: One of the boycotting candidates Leslie Voltaire says this comes at a terrible time for Haiti. The country is still reeling from the January earthquake and the ongoing cholera epidemic.
Mr. LESLIE VOLTAIRE (Presidential candidate, Haiti): Now a bad election. This is a recipe for disaster.
BEAUBIEN: Voltaire says rather than unifying the country and giving Haiti new leadership, this election has divided it. He says the ruling party stuffed ballot boxes, intimidated voters and pushed tens of thousands of others off the rolls through bureaucratic bungling. Voltaire says the coalition of 12 candidates is not going to allow this vote to stand.
Mr. VOLTAIRE: We will continue to get together. Tomorrow well have a meeting with all the political parties, all the presidents, and agree on some kind of solution.
BEAUBIEN: While the candidates are rejecting this poll, which was funded with more than $20 Million dollars from the international community, the candidates havent suggested an alternative. Some of them have called for an entirely new election, but its unclear when that would happen. Others suggest that the votes of the ruling partys Celestin should be disqualified.
At polling places on election day, many Haitians said that their country needs change. There were repeated scenes, however, of people who couldnt find their names on the voting lists. Twenty-seven-year-old Marc Franklin wanted to vote for Michel Martelly but couldnt, because his name wasnt on the election sheet.
Mr. MARC FRANKLIN: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: I want the election officials to take their responsibility and fix this, Franklin said, I know my vote can make a difference, my vote can take me out of the tent where Im staying, my vote can make my life better.
The director of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, Gaillot Dorsainvil, however, dismissed the allegations of fraud made by the candidates.
Mr. GAILLOT DORSAINVIL: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: Dorsainvil said the election was completed and it was a success. He said there were some problems, but at only a small percentage of the polling stations. Dorsainvil said the Provisional Electoral Council is moving forward with the vote count and expects to have initial results by December 7th. He says his Council doesnt have the power to annul an election as the candidates are calling for. And, he points out, the candidates dont have that power either.
Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Port au Prince.
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