Top candidates reject recount in sloppy Haitian election

Violence sparked by alleged fraud forces aid workers off streets of Port-au-Prince and other towns in Haiti.

December 12, 2010 05:09
2 minute read.
Haiti Election Riots

Haiti riots 311. (photo credit: AP)


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Two top candidates in Haiti’s disputed presidential election are rejecting a proposed recount, threatening to torpedo a compromise aimed at quelling days of riots and violence over allegations the vote was rigged, their campaigns said Saturday.

The snub by No. 1 finisher Mirlande Manigat and by third-place Michel Martelly leaves the impoverished nation dangerously volatile, with much of the population rejecting the officially announced outcome of the November 28 election and many willing to protest with violence.

Sarah Palin visits Haiti under tight guard
Furious demonstrators protest Haiti election results

Only the ruling party candidate, Jude Celestin, supports the electoral council’s offer to retabulate tally sheets from thousands of polling stations around the Caribbean nation.

Blockades and rock-throwing continued in a few areas, but violence had largely subsided in most parts of the capital by Saturday and many people rushed to reopened markets to stock up on food, water, fuel and other supplies in fear that more protests could erupt again.

On Thursday, Israeli and Jewish aid workers were under strict orders to stay indoors, a day after the violent riots broke out on the streets of Port-au-Prince and several other towns.

IsraAID workers in the town of Leogane, just west of the capital, said that while things had quieted down, they weren’t taking any chances.

“Since yesterday morning, things have been unstable in the city,” Yuri Tsitrinbaum, head of the IsraAID-Tevel Be’Tzedek Mission to Leogane, wrote in an e-mail on Thursday. “All public facilities closed, barricades on the roads – burning tires, broken glass and stones. We have witnessed a demonstration that was very aggressive.”

Judy Amit, the global director of international development for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, spoke about the precautions taken to ensure the security of its staff and partners on the ground in the troubled Caribbean country.

“Our Magen David Adom and Tel Hashomer Medical Center teams were given instructions to stay in the hotel, where they are safe,” she said.

“The Israel Trauma Coalition team, who we also work with, got stuck in New York because there were no flights in or out of the country.”

Looking ahead, Amit said she hoped the political situation would be resolved over Christmas.

“I understand there are new elections on January 15,” she said. “I imagine it might quieten down during the holiday, as they are a deeply religious people.”

Nonetheless, she said contingency plans were in place should the situation deteriorate, and that her organization was following developments closely.

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