Haiti Election Results Spark Mass Riots

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Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Haiti on Wednesday to protest results of the island nation's Nov. 28 presidential election, believing the contest was rigged.

A mob set fire to the headquarters of Unity, the government's ruling party, in capital city of Port au Prince, and thousands of others set up barricades and lit fires in the streets.

Haitian voters were angry that Jude Celestin, the candidate backed by unpopular President Rene Preval, will now advance to a run-off.  Meanwhile, Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, the carnival singer they supported, came in third and is out of the race.

''Demonstrate -- that is your right," Preval said on Haiti's national radio. "But don't attack public buildings, businesses or private property."

Meanwhile, U.S. officials indicated that they also suspected the election results were illegitimate.

"Like others, the government of the United States is concerned by the Provisional Electoral Council's announcement of preliminary results from the November 28 national elections that are inconsistent with the published results of the National Election Observation Council (CNO), which had more than 5,500 observers and observed the vote count in 1,600 voting centers nationwide," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement.

Preval has dismissed allegations that the election was tainted by fraud and took a swipe at Washington's criticism of the results, saying "the American Embassy is not (the electoral council)."

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley insisted the U.S. is not fanning voter unrest.
     
"The United States is in no way responsible for the actions of any individual," he told reporters in Washington.

"What we are determined to help Haiti achieve is a credible election and a result - not one that the United States will impose - but one that the people of Haiti can participate in fully," he said.

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