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Violence escalates in Haiti as election goes to run off

Protesters in Haiti reacted angrily to the news that President Rene Preval's handpicked successor had made it through to a presidential run-off by fewer than 7,000 votes.

protests in Port-au-Prince

Supporters of Martelly, the third-place candidate, protested in the capital

Gunfire erupted in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince late Tuesday, following the anouncement that former first lady Mirlande Manigat and government technocrat Jude Celestin are to face off in a second round of voting in the presidential election. Earlier polls had showed a popular third candidate, the musician Michel Martelly, had more support than Celestin.

Heavily armed police patrolled the streets of the capital, as protestors yelled their support for Martelly and against outgoing President Rene Preval, who had chosen Celestin as his protege.

The National Election Observation Council, which is funded by the European Union and had more than observers at more than 1600 voting centers across the nation, estimated on Monday that Celestin was trailing a clear third behind Martelly.

The U.S. Embassy released a statement late on Tuesday backing the second round of voting, after the November 28th election was marred by protests and accusations of fraud.

Author: Sarah Harman (Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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