Haiti leader questions poll report

OAS report says Rene Preval's preferred candidate in presidential poll should be excluded from run-off.

    The report cited vote tally irregularities to recommend that Jude Celestin be replaced in the run-off [REUTERS]

    The Haitian president is reported to have "reservations" about a report from a regional organisation that challenges the official results of Haiti's disputed November elections, a government official said.

    Rene Preval, who cannot himself stand for a second consecutive term, on Thursday received the report by the team of Organisation of American States (OAS) experts, which recommends that a government-backed presidential candidate be eliminated from a second-round run-off election.

    "The president has a number of reservations on the methodology the members of the OAS commission used to get to their conclusions," the official, who asked not to be identified, said.

    The president, whom opponents have accused of rigging the UN-backed elections that took place on November 28 amid widespread confusion and fraud allegations, had originally asked the OAS to help verify the disputed preliminary results.

    'Significant' irregularities

    The preliminary results, which were contested by opposition candidates and triggered streets riots when they were announced by the Provisional Electoral Council last month, had put government technocrat and Preval protege, Jude Celestin, in the second round.

    The OAS experts' report cited "significant" vote tally irregularities and recommended that Celestin be replaced in the second round run-off by popular musician Michel Martelly, who had been narrowly placed third in the preliminary results.

    It was not clear whether Preval would reject the report's recommendation or seek to discuss his reservations further with the OAS experts.

    Preval's reported doubts about the report could stir political tensions and uncertainty a day after Haiti
    commemorated the first anniversary of the devastating January 12 2010 earthquake in the poor, volatile Caribbean country.

    The OAS experts' report confirmed opposition matriarch, Mirlande Manigat, as the candidate who won most votes in the first round, although she did not gain enough to win outright.

    She therefore remains in the second-round run-off.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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