PORT-AU-PRINCE – Violence returned Monday to various cities in Haiti, including this capital, where thousands of people demonstrated against the government and the presidential runoff set for six days from now.
Some of the protesters in Port-au-Prince threw stones at vehicles and buildings, burned tires and blocked several main streets with rocks.
The demonstration was called by the political opposition to protest the fraud they say was rampant in two elections in 2015.
The first round of the presidential vote was held on Oct. 25 and ruling-party candidate Jovenel Moise and opposition figure Jude Celestin were declared to be the top vote-getters.
Celestin had said on numerous occasions that he would not take part in a runoff, and he has now informed the Provisional Election Council – or CEP – that he has officially withdrawn from the race.
The protest in the capital came just hours after unknown vandals burned several election offices.
During the march, protesters called for a “revolution” to oust President Michel Martelly, who must leave office on Feb. 7, the first day of carnival.
Assad Volcy, the head of the Pitit Dessalines opposition party, issued a call to the public “to protest all over the country.”
“The CEP has to leave so that a transitional government may organize free and democratic elections,” Volcy told the media.
Meanwhile, Moise urged Haitians to turn out in large numbers to vote.
Two of the CEP’s nine members have resigned in recent days and another was suspended for allegedly accepting a bribe.
An independent commission determined that there were “serious” irregularities during the initial vote in October.