Presidential election Demonstrators against Haiti vote outcome clash with police

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Haitian police confront demonstrators protesting the election of Jovenel Moise as new president of Haiti in Port-au-Prince play

Haitian police confront demonstrators protesting the election of Jovenel Moise as new president of Haiti in Port-au-Prince

(AFP)

Haitian police stopped hundreds of demonstrators challenging the presidential election's outcome on Wednesday, blocking them, clashing with stone-throwers and lobbing tear gas to disperse the crowds.

On Tuesday, sporadic violence broke out in some of Port-au-Prince's poorest neighborhoods -- carried by Maryse Narcisse's Fanmi Lavalas Party -- against winner Jovenel Moise, the man former president Michel Martelly chose to represent his party.

Early data show that Moise won the election outright, garnering 55.7 percent of the November 20 vote, barring the need for a second round. But he lacks popularity, with only 21 percent of eligible voters having cast their ballots.

Demonstrators marching Wednesday ran up against officers with heavy weapons and riot shields, who blocked them in Petionville, a well-off suburb of the capital.

Marchers lobbed stones at police, who first responded with tear gas grenades and then water cannons.

Jude Celestin is so far second with 19.52 percent of the vote. Moise Jean-Charles (11.04 percent), and Maryse Narcisse (8.99 percent) are readying to take their disputes to the electoral authorities.

The electoral council issued a statement on Wednesday reminding Haitians that the results are only preliminary and urging "parties, political groups and candidates to refrain from declaring themselves elected."

Haiti is one of the world's most inequitable countries, according to the World Bank, with the electoral crisis a further demonstration of the persistent divisions between the poor majority and the wealthy elite.

The election, which took place without major incident, is seen as an essential step to allow the country to return to the constitutional order after the cancellation of the first round of the presidential election held in October 2015.

Since February, Haiti has been headed by a temporary president, Jocelerme Privert, whose mandate was supposed to end in June.

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