Haiti set for more election clashes


A UN vehicle approaches a burning barricade in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Haitians are preparing for more violence as rival candidates told supporters to take to streets and tip the balance in a sharply disputed presidential election stained by claims of fraud.

Barricades were cleared overnight but more burning tyres were set up in parts of the city to block off traffic. People rushed to stores opening for the first time in three days to get food, water and provisions ahead of further clashes.

Witnesses said a gunman surrounded by men wearing the shirts of candidate Jude Celestin roamed through a post-earthquake shanty town and shot at least one man.

Third-place candidate Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly blamed the attack on Celestin, who is edging him out by less than 1 percentage point for a spot in a January run-off.

A taped message by Celestin was aired on television calling for an end to violence, but he encouraged his supporters to mobilise on the streets.

The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders reported it had treated 15 people with bullet wounds since demonstrations began on Tuesday in Port-au-Prince.

The United States reissued a warning recommending all US citizens reconsider travelling to Haiti – citing high crime, the cholera outbreak and social unrest. Canada closed its embassy until further notice because of the post-electoral violence.

The November 28 election was troubled by poor organisation, voter intimidation and allegations of fraud, with fewer than a quarter of eligible voters are said to have cast valid ballots.

The Provisional Electoral Council announced that it would re-count tally sheets in the presence of international observers and the three leading candidates.

Martelly became popular as a singer of kompa, a jazzy Haitian dance music he blended with R&B and satiric lyrics.

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