Haiti election protests spread through capital

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 8, 2010 23:27

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The headquarters of Haiti's  ruling party was set ablaze Wednesday as protests over disputed presidential election results spread through the Haitian capital, prompting the nation's president to call for calm.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets, erecting barricades and setting fires, furious that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin, the protege of unpopular President Rene Preval, apparently will go on to a runoff vote while carnival singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly finished third in official results and is probably eliminated. Protests have also broken out in Les Cayes, Cap-Haitien and other cities.

Associated Press journalists saw flames leaping from the roof of the Unity party headquarters, the center of Celestin's campaign. Witnesses said the building in central Port-au-Prince was on fire for an hour.

Protesters said security guards shot demonstrators as they assaulted the building, but there were no confirmed injures in the fire or demonstration. Several fire trucks tried to control the blaze — an unusual scene in a city with few reliable public services.

Preval urged the candidates to call off the protests.


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