Presidential elections have been postponed in Haiti amid accusations of fraud. Violent protests broke out on the streets of Port-au-Prince on 22 January before the vote was called off for "security reasons".

President Michel Martelly would have stood essentially unopposed in the elections on 24 January, after opposition candidate Jude Celestin pulled out of the race. Celestin had vowed to boycott the vote, after claiming the first round in October was rigged to favour the ruling party candidate.

Large groups of protesters took to the streets, where people were attacked, shops were looted and cars were set on fire during the heated demonstration.

One protester, who identified himself as John, said, "The country's problem is that the government wanted to move ahead with the elections and the people are against it. The elections cannot run with one candidate."

A man was seen being beaten with sticks and metal chairs on the road, before police put a stop to the attack. Officers then fired shots at a group of people who appeared to be looting a store.

Port-au-Prince protest
The 24 January vote has now been pushed back.Reuters

Another protester, Nesly, said, "We, the people, want to say something. What we mean is that we have no problem with Jovenel Moïse himself. But if Jovenel wants to be president, it must happen within legality, but the way they want to win is unacceptable and that is why elections must be cancelled and we will never accept this".

President of Haiti's electoral council Pierre Louis Opont said the vote has now been postponed, but did not specify when it would be held. Newly appointed senators in the country voted almost unanimously to push the election back, after the Catholic church, business leaders and election experts all warned against it.

These latest disruptions to Haitian elections come as the country has struggled to build a credible democracy after the 1957-1986 dictatorship of the Duvalier family.