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Haiti vote results contested, spark protests

AFP  |  Port-Au-Prince 

Businessman Jovenel Moise's as Haiti's next president was challenged by losing rival candidates, signaling more political upheaval in the troubled nation as sporadic protests erupted in the capital.

Violence broke out in some of Port-au-Prince's poorest neighborhoods, which were carried by Maryse Narcisse's Fanmi Lavalas party, against Moise, the man former president Michel Martelly chose to represent his party.

Police launched tear gas grenades to disperse a crowd of hundreds of her supporters who called the vote an "electoral coup" and reacted to the advancing officers by throwing stones.

"We didn't vote in secret. All of the working-class neighborhoods in the country... Voted for Maryse, but the they announced were an electoral coup," said Rose-Marie Rosilus.

Rosilus lives in Bel Air, a neighborhood that has historically been a bastion of former leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who heads the Lavalas party.

"We will stay out in the streets until the electoral council gives us our true results," added Rosilus, who brought lemons to alleviate the effect of the tear gas.

There were no reports of violence elsewhere in the capital or across the country.

Moise, a 48-year-old political novice and entrepreneur who worked in agriculture mostly growing bananas, earning him the nickname "banana man," wants to lift the Caribbean country out of poverty by reviving its agricultural sector.

"We will need to mobilize all the resources of the country, as I repeated during my campaign: men, land, sun and rivers to put food on people's plates and money in their pockets," Moise said late Monday, shortly after the preliminary of the first-round were announced.

But his rivals' challenges over the vote's legitimacy could run those plans into the ground.

The preliminary showed that Moise won the outright, garnering 55.7 percent of the vote, thus barring the need for a second round. But he lacks much popularity, with only 21 percent of eligible voters casting their ballots.

Jude Celestin, who ran as a candidate of the opposition LAPEH and came in second with 19.52 percent, is refusing to accept the outcome, along with fellow candidates Moise Jean-Charles (11.04 percent) and Narcisse (8.99 percent).

"We are saying there was cheating and we will see who cheated," Celestin told AFP, without naming Moise directly.

Indicating he would pursue the matter in the courts, Celestin claimed the results "do not reflect the popular vote."

But election observers from the Organization of American States said the results were "in line" with data they collected at polling stations.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 30 2016. 11:42 IST