Haitian candidates seek to void presidential vote

Twelve candidates in Haiti’s presidential election called for Sunday’s vote to be canceled amid allegations of fraud. Crowds took to the streets to demand an end to the flawed vote.

The announcement by top candidates for Haiti’s presidency came several hours into the voting process, which many Haitians said was deeply flawed.

The 12 candidates gathered at a Port-au-Prince hotel, where they accused President Rene Preval and election officials of being ill-prepared for the election.

Anne Marie Josette Bijou read a statement from the group. Ms. Bijou said the candidates had proof that President Preval had no intentions of holding a democratic vote. And they accused him of using the presidency to hand the election to his party’s candidate, Jude Celestin.

Candidate Michel Martelly said the 12 men and women from opposing parties were united in how to respond to concerns about the voting process early Sunday. Martelly said all of the candidates agreed with the conclusion that the voting process was plagued by fraud.

Shortly after the announcement, Martelly led supporters in a march through the streets of Port-au-Prince. Similar protest marches were reported elsewhere in the capital, as well as in other cities. Angry voters also invaded some polling stations and destroyed voting materials.

Early Sunday, voters complained of problems at many polling stations. Some said they could not find out what polling station they were supposed to use, and others said the government had failed to issue them new identification cards to replace ones lost in a January earthquake.

More than a million people remain in tent camps after losing their homes.

Some critics said the vote should be delayed because of problems related to the quake and a cholera epidemic that started in mid-October. Haitian officials and leaders of the United Nations mission in Haiti have insisted the vote should take place.

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