Election results delayed

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Results of the Haitian presidential elections have been delayed to allow the Organization of American States (OAS) to finish a probe into the controversial vote.

On Sunday, 24 hours before the results of the November 28 poll were to be made public, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) said that it had agreed to hold off publication of the results for the OAS investigation.

Preliminary results of the first round of balloting placed former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the lead with 31 per cent of the vote, followed by ruling party candidate Jude Celestin, who had 22 per cent.

As a result, a run-off election between the two candidates was scheduled for January. However, the announcement sparked violent protests and riots as supporters of opposition candidates – and particularly those backing musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly who came third – accused President René Préval’s party of rigging the elections.

The OAS, which joined CARICOM in mounting an electoral observation mission to Haiti, has stepped in to help authorities verify the results at the request of Préval.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, who visited Haiti after Préval asked the OAS to assist, said the mission would only have traveled to Haiti if the CEP’s announcement of results was postponed.

“There’s no sense in clarifying the election results if those results are made final,” Ramdin said, adding that it is important to not only focus on the electoral aspect but also on “creating momentum for political acceptance of the final outcome of the clarification process”.

No date has been given for the OAS mission to be set up and start its work but Ramdin said the process of clarification and recount will begin after the terms of reference are agreed upon by the top three candidates.

Martelly and Manigat have expressed reservations about a recount. Last week, Martelly called for a new poll to be conducted.

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