Political Crisis Thrust Upon Tragedy-Ridden Haiti Presidential elections in Haiti Sunday disintegrated into street protests after 12 of the 18 candidates said the balloting was fraudulent. Before the polls had closed, the candidates said they would not accept the results.
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Political Crisis Thrust Upon Tragedy-Ridden Haiti

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Political Crisis Thrust Upon Tragedy-Ridden Haiti

Political Crisis Thrust Upon Tragedy-Ridden Haiti

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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.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTORS)

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 Martelly's bald head.

SANOT FRITZNER: There's a lot of conspiracy today. Everywhere you go to vote they stop you, they say, you can't 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 party's candidate, Jude Celestin.

FRITZNER: You know what I'm 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.

LESLIE VOLTAIRE: 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.

VOLTAIRE: We will continue to get together. Tomorrow we'll have a meeting with all the political parties, all the presidents, and agree on some kind of solution.

BEAUBIEN: At polling places on election day, many Haitians said that their country needs change. There were repeated scenes, however, of people who couldn't find their names on the voting lists. Twenty-seven-year-old Marc Franklin wanted to vote for Michel Martelly but couldn't, because his name wasn't on the election sheet.

MARC FRANKLIN: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: The director of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, Gaillot Dorsainvil, however, dismissed the allegations of fraud made by the candidates.

GAILLOT DORSAINVIL: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Port au Prince.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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