Haitian government orders election review
Updated: 2006-02-15 10:39
Related: Haiti's frontrunner rejects vote results
Haiti's interim government ordered a review of election results Tuesday,
hours after the leading presidential candidate ！ who appeared set to fall short
of a first-round victory ！ claimed the count was marred by "massive fraud" or
The order is the first formal step to investigate possible fraud or
irregularities committed during last week's vote and the counting process.
A supporter of
leading Haitian presidential candidate Rene Preval walks with his campaign
poster fixed with a bandanna through a street of Port-au-Prince, Tuesday,
Feb. 14, 2006. With about 10 percent of last week's vote yet to be
announced, leading presidential candidate Rene Preval has just under the
50 percent required to avoid a runoff. Preval urged calm Tuesday from his
many angry supporters who virtually paralyzed Port-au-Prince a day
"The government wants to make sure that everything with the process is
correct," interim Interior Minister Paul Magloire told The Associated Press.
Earlier in the day, leading presidential candidate Rene Preval promised to
contest the results. Preval also urged supporters to protest peacefully a day
after at least one pro-Preval demonstrator was killed and followers elsewhere
occupied a hotel.
Preval said official results "do not correspond with reality."
"We are convinced that either massive fraud or gross errors stain the
(electoral) process" Preval said.
The review will be conducted by a commission comprised of the president's
office, the electoral council and Preval's party, said Michel Brunache, chief of
staff of interim President Boniface Alexandre.
Magloire said the commission will be formed in the coming days and that the
review of the voter tally sheets "will be very fast."
The electoral council will not release more election results pending the
outcome of the review, Brunache said.
Tens of thousands of Preval's backers, most from Haiti's majority poor, have
flooded the streets of the capital since Sunday to protest what they called a
Local Telemax TV news Tuesday night showed smashed white ballot boxes in a
garbage dump, with wads of ballots strewn about. Ballot after ballot was marked
U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst said the ballots could have come from any of
nine polling stations across the country that were ransacked on election day,
forcing officials to throw out up to 35,000 votes. At least one voting center
was destroyed by people tired of waiting in line, others were destroyed by
political factions, he said.
Wimhurst said it was possible someone dumped the ransacked ballots to create
an appearance of fraud.
White U.N. armored vehicles on Tuesday shoved aside some roadblocks of junked
cars, old refrigerators and other debris that were laid across the streets of
the capital a day earlier. Businesses were shuttered, although street markets
bustled with shoppers.
The most recent election results, posted Monday, showed Preval had 48.76
percent of the vote with 90 percent of ballots counted. He would need 50 percent
plus one vote from the Feb. 7 election to avoid a March runoff.
"If they publish the results as they are now, we will oppose them, the
Haitian people will also oppose them, and there will be protests," Preval told
Wimhurst said there was no evidence of fraud. The U.N. provided security for
the vote and helped ship election returns to the capital but is not directly
involved in counting ballots.
An official with the European Union, which has election observers here,
declined comment on the vote count.
"The situation is volatile and difficult, and we do not want to make any
declaration," she said on condition of anonymity because she was not an official
EU spokesperson. The Canadian observer group also refused to comment.
The constitution indicates that a challenge would go to the Supreme Court,
but the interim government recently decreed that complaints should go to the
electoral commission ！ the same body that is releasing the results.
The U.N. said pro-Preval demonstrations were preventing election personnel
from going to work and many counting centers had closed because of security
"I ask the Haitian people ... to be mature, to be responsible, to be
nonviolent," Preval said Tuesday.
The U.N. Security Council urged Haitians to respect election results and
refrain from violence, and it extended the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti
for six months, until Aug. 15.
Some 7,300 U.N. troops and 1,750 international police are in the country
under Brazilian command, helping maintain order. The U.N. mission replaced a
U.S.-led force that arrived after an uprising toppled President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide in February 2004.
A popularly elected government with a clear mandate is seen as crucial to
avoiding a political and economic meltdown in the Western Hemisphere's poorest
nation. Gangs have gone on kidnapping sprees and factories have closed for lack
At least one protester was killed Monday. Witnesses said U.N. peacekeepers
opened fire. Wimhurst first denied that peacekeepers fired any rounds, then
later said they had fired in the air and that someone else fired shots afterward
in the same area. Preval supporters also stormed into a luxury hotel in
Petionville on Monday.
Preval, a former president, urged his supporters to "respect people's
belongings" and to be on guard against provocateurs.
A runoff would pit Preval against second-place finisher Leslie Manigat, also
a former president, who received 11.8 percent of the vote, according to
Of the 2.2 million ballots cast, about 125,000 have been declared invalid
because of irregularities, raising suspicion among Preval supporters that
polling officials were rigging the election.
Four percent of the ballots were blank but were still
added to the total, making it harder for Preval to obtain the margin needed to
avoid a runoff.