News from Haiti

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Crowds storm voting centers in Haiti; one dead (AFP)

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - Haiti's elections have got off to a tense start, with one person reportedly asphyxiated and another wounded as crowds stormed voting centers that failed to open on time. A 65-year-old man died of asphyxiation on Tuesday as crowds rushed the gate of a voting center in the Petionville suburb of Port-au-Prince, Radio Caraibes reported. At another voting center in the capital, a woman suffered burns as she fell over the hot exhaust of a police motorcycle as mobs stormed into the building which police desperately tried to keep closed until electoral officials completed preparations. Anger mounted among the massive crowds that showed up early to vote but still faced closed gates two hours after the balloting officially started. Similar situations were reported in other parts of the country. Tension was particularly high around the notoriously violent Cite Soleil slum, where voters voiced their anger chanting "open up, open up." Many voters around the country had to walk for hours to reach the voting centers.