Rene Preval Supporters take over Hotel Montana in Petion-Ville

The elections were fraudulent! Tens of thousands of demonstrating René Préval supporters took to the streets, or rather, took the streets with this cry after the results of the February 7, 2006 first-round of elections called for a run-off. What had started as a slightly run-of-the-mill election demonstration, complete with burning barricades and the thick, black smoke they create, took a much more direct approach to being heard by the people who count, as the crowd stormed the Petion-Ville gem, Hotel Montana, where the press headquarters of the electoral council was located.

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Already deeply stung by the ousting of President Aristide, the demonstrators mobilized after the CEP released figures that made a run-off necessary, though the early count had shown Rene Préval with a lead clearly over the needed 50%. Claims of vote-rigging, incomplete or inaccurate voter lists, sudden relocations of polling stations, discarding of uncounted ballots and direct accusations against the CEP President of tampering abounded. Further fueling the ire of the protestors, communities traditionally for Préval saw an average 3-4 hours of delays in opening; a striking contrast to the noticeably smoother running of stations in areas supporting Préval's contenders. In those areas there were significantly fewer complaints, leading to the assumption that the difficulties experienced by Préval's demographic were artificially and intentionally created. Announcements of sudden changes were made at the last minute and were sometimes contrary to the actual situations met with by voters.

The Hotel Montana siege was met with alarm by the guests, who reportedly pay more for their stay of a few nights than some Haitians make in a year. U.N. guards and local authorities could do nothing as the masses took over the hotel, making it their demonstration headquarters and even starting an impromptu pool party.

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Read more: demonstration, cep, run-off election, vote, fraud, Petion-Ville, Hotel, Election Fraud, Hotel Montana, Supporter, Travel and Tourism

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