Haiti’s Elections Postponed Amid Protests

Haiti’s presidential elections have been postponed, meaning the current head of state René Préval, whose term would normally be over next February, will stay in the job for up to an extra three months. President Préval says that officials are struggling to cope with organizing November’s ballot after the earthquake. The reasoning is that the natural disaster destroyed many buildings, including government offices, and killed or displaced 1.6 million voters. Now the priority is preparing for the coming hurricane season. For the time being, 1.3 million people are crowded into the biggest temporary accommodation of makeshift tents in Port-au-Prince.

Meanwhile, there have been violent protests calling for the president to step down. At one point, panic broke out when security forces used tear gas and warning shots to disperse the crowd that was attempting to crash through the barricades surrounding the National Palace. Protesters held up photos of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, also known to the people as Titid, with signs reading “Nap tan’n ou,” which means “We will wait for you.” [Many thanks to my student Natalie Fouché for explaining this Creole phrase.]

Between 1000 and 2000 (depending on the media reports) people came onto the streets of the capital expressing anger at the government’s response to last January’s catastrophic earthquake that killed between 200,000 and 300,000 people; many accuse Préval of selling the impoverished Caribbean country to foreign powers.

For full articles, see http://www.euronews.net/2010/05/08/haitian-president-to-stay-an-extra-three-months/ , http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1102ap_cb_haiti_protests.html and http://www.euronews.net/2010/05/11/haiti-protests-call-for-president-to-quit/

Photos of protesters holding up a photo of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, also known to the people as Titid, from http://www.salon.com/wires/allwires/2010/05/10/D9FKACAG0_cb_haiti_protests/index.html and http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1102ap_cb_haiti_protests.html

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