Protests on Haiti Independence Day

More than 100 protesters angered by a dysfunctional election commemorated Haiti’s Independence Day by burning tyres and demanding that President Rene Preval be arrested.

The demonstrators blocked roads and filled streets with rubbish in the capital, Port-au-Prince, before police dispersed them.

“We earned our independence, so today we are free to protest and demand democratic elections,” said Simeyon Wisly, who called for a new election under the supervision of a revamped national electoral council.

“We are not celebrating today. We are protesting this corruption of power.”

In the northern coastal city of Gonaives, Mr Preval urged national unity and patience in a speech interrupted by protesters who demanded he step down.

The Organisation of American States has asked Mr Preval to delay announcing election results until an international panel of experts can review the vote in an election marred by violence, fraud and low turnout.

Riots ensued after the November 28 first round showed ruling-party candidate Jude Celestin eliminated carnival singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly by less than 1%. Former first lady Mirlande Manigat came in first.

Outside of downtown Port-au-Prince, Haitians commemorated the holiday by preparing traditional pumpkin soup and taking the day off work.

Haiti obtained its independence from France on January 1, 1804, becoming the world’s first black republic and the only country to stage a successful slave rebellion.

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