Stone-throwing demonstrators on Monday smashed car windows and set at least two vehicles ablaze in Haiti’s capital, hours after several electoral offices were attacked in northern towns as the country prepares for a Jan. 24 presidential and legislative runoff. Roughly 2,000 protesters took to the streets in downtown Port-au-Prince calling for new elections and the immediate removal of outgoing President Michel Martelly, among other grievances. Roads were blocked with flaming tire barricades and more than a dozen motorists had their cars pelted with rocks. A truck and an SUV were torched by young men near a police station. Police dispersed opposition protesters and cleared most roadblocks by late afternoon. Officers scattered some demonstrators with tear gas in the downtown slum of Bel Air, one of many impoverished areas where young people who’ve never held any kind of steady job are easy pickings for political actors looking for protesters for hire.
High school science teacher Elisme Nerius walked his 9-year-old son home from school near a barricaded intersection where black smoke was still billowing from burning tires. “My hope is that when my boy is old enough to vote this country can finally hold decent and calm elections,” Nerius said.
In northern Haiti, Police Inspector Michel Henri said three electoral offices were set on fire late Sunday in towns around the city of Cap-Haitien and at least two others were damaged by hurled rocks. Henri said the three offices that were set ablaze “weren’t totally destroyed” because locals managed to douse the flames.
Gerardo de Icaza, electoral observation director at the Organization of American States, tweeted Monday that the OAS mission “deplores and strongly condemns” the violence targeting offices of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council. The OAS called on Haitian political actors to reject violence and “act peacefully.”
Full Article: Several election offices attacked in Haiti as runoff nears.