Two presidential candidates are accusing Haitian police of firing on them during a Wednesday protest against alleged fraud in Haiti’s recent presidential election while a third says he and his supporters were threatened with arrest. Sen. Steven Benoit and former Sen. Moise Jean-Charles say they were injured when police fired tear gas and shots to disperse protesters during what was the largest protest since the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced the preliminary results of the Oct. 25 presidential elections. “The police shot at us point blank,” Benoit said. “There were lots of people and when we got in front of the CEP, they targeted us. It was not an accident.”
Benoit says he was hit in his head, and three other places by rubber bullets. He alleges, however, that real bullets were also fired by cops. “It’s like its 2003 all over again,” he said referring to the era when anti-government protests eventually forced the departure of then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. “[President Michel] Martelly thought we could not put 10,000 people out into the streets and now they see, we are for real and they are panicking.”
Opposition presidential candidates have organized supporters to demand the cancellation of the election or removal of government-backed candidate Jovenel Moise, who is set to face Jude Célestin in a Dec. 27 runoff .
Haiti National Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said police were “obligated to break up the protest” because they approached “a sterile zone,” the CEP’s Petionville headquarters. He could not confirm if real bullets were fired, but usually blanks are used, he said.