PETIONVILLE, Haiti — Hundreds of supporters of a popular Haitian musician who did not make it into Haiti's presidential runoff ran through the streets waving his pink poster and sticks Wednesday morning to denounce the preliminary election results.
"They don't want to see Martelly," the group of young men chanted as they ran past a public plaza turned into a homeless camp for victims of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Martelly refers to well-known Haitian konpa artist, and one-time part-time Miami resident Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly.
Later, the Associated Press reported that protestors had set fire to the headquarters of the ruling political party, Unity, whose candidate Jude Célestin edged out Martelly for a place in a January runoff election.
Flames were leaping from Unity party headquarters and several fire trucks were on the scene trying to control the blaze.
Martelly supporters also demanded the departure of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission known as MINUSTAH. Sporadic rock and bottle throwing also were reported in Haiti's second largest city, Cap-Haitien in the north, where anti-UN protests erupted just a few weeks ago.
At least one airline, American, cancelled flights to Haiti Wednesday.
The protests come after a night of sporadic gunfire and protesters set tires ablaze in Port-au-Prince after election officials announced Haitian President Réne Préval's handpicked successor, Célestin, will head to a runoff with former first lady Mirlande Manigat while Martelly will not.
The U.S. embassy immediately questioned the results saying "like others, the government of the United States is concerned by the Provisional Electoral Council's announcement of preliminary results."
The statement said the results were "inconsistent with the published results" of the National Election Observation Council, which had more than 5,500 observers. It had Martelly headed into a runoff with Manigat. But the results were based on just 15 percent of the returns.
With concerns of more violence escalating, the international community was scheduled to meet Wednesday morning. The mood remained tense Wednesday and some streets throughout the capital were impassable because of barricades erected Tuesday night.
Manigat, a longtime opposition leader, received 31.37 percent of the vote in Haiti's chaotic and highly contested Nov. 28 election; Célestin, former head of the government road building agency, 22.48 percent, and Martelly received 21.84 percent, election officials said.
That would theoretically place Manigat and Célestin, whom Préval backed, into a Jan. 16 runoff in the country's most competitive elections in more than two decades.
But with just .64 percentage points separating Célestin, 48, and Martelly, 49, the road to the presidency may not be that clear cut.
Read more of this story at MiamiHerald.com