Voters were upset, too. They shut down some polling places and cascaded into the streets to make their frustrations known, throwing rocks and bottles at United Nations peacekeeping troops, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
The dozen presidential hopefuls at the news conference accused the Inite party, backed by President Rene Preval, of trying to rig the election, the online U.S. newspaper said. Among them was Michel Martelly, a musician considered a top contender in the race who was accompanied by rapper Wyclef Jean, said the media event was held "to denounce today's massive fraud all over the country."
The country's electoral commission held its own news conference, urging calm and reassuring people the vote was on track, the Monitor said.
"There are places where bandits shut down polls, shots were fired and stones were thrown," Pierre Opont, the election commission's director general, said. "But it is only a small percentage of the polling areas and it won't stop us from voting and getting a valid result."
Haiti's voters faced confusion, delays and rejection at the polls, observers reported. Many found their names missing from voter lists, and illiterate voters had no one to help them find their names, The Miami Herald reported.
Abner Jean, who could not cast a ballot despite holding a valid registration card because his name wasn't on election rolls.
"We are not going to stand for an election that is not the will of the people," Jean told the Monitor. "If they put in a candidate that we did not choose, we'll use whatever means necessary to kick them out."
Polls were to open at 6 a.m., but people were kept waiting for hours as election workers set up.
The BBC said its correspondents saw only a trickle of voters at the polls in the early hours of the first election since January's massive earthquake killed 230,000 people and caused widespread devastation.
"There are more than 5,000 people here and the [electoral commission] sent us less than 40 names. We don't have enough ballots," Elizer Fritznel, a polling place supervisor, told the Monitor.
Observers said Haitians expressed cynicism about the election.
"We have nothing to eat and no place to live, we are so thin that even the air that blows can lift us, from where do we get the strength to go out and vote?" one woman told the BBC.
The large slate of candidates means a runoff could be necessary Jan. 16.
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