Answers sought in Haiti poll irregularities
As violence breaks out in parts of Haiti, donor nations want answers to lingering fraud allegations in recent elections
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2011 22:53
Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly faces the task of rebuilding a nation crushed by deadly January 2010 quake [Reuters]

The United Nations and Haiti's major donor nations, including the United States, have voiced concern over
allegations of fraud in final results of the country's legislative elections.

Reversals in 18 legislative races raised doubts about the legitimacy of the voting process, according to Haiti's main benefactors. The concerns coincided with outbreaks of violence in parts of Haiti that left at least one person dead during protests over the final election tally.

A UN statement issued in Port-au-Prince on Friday congratulated president-elect Michel Martelly on his victory but noted concerns over the final tally in legislative elections, which overturned 17 seats in the Chamber
of Deputies and one in the Senate.

"The final results have therefore raised serious concern about the transparency and legitimacy of the process," said the statement released by the UN on behalf of the US, Brazil, Canada, Spain, France, the European Union and other major donors.

The statement said the UN and donor nations "continue to stand with the people of Haiti" and urged all Haitians "to remain calm and work through peaceful means to address this issue."

Martelly called on Thursday for an independent probe into alleged fraud by outgoing president Rene Preval's ruling party in the legislative vote.

On Friday, he urged the international community "not recognise" the results of the legislative elections.

"These results are unacceptable and don't reflect the will of the people," said a statement from Martelly's office.

Clarifications demanded

The US voiced concern over alleged fraud in the legislative elections and said authorities must explain how some of the final results came to be reversed.

"We have found no explanation for the reversals of 18 legislative races in the final results, which in all except two cases benefited the incumbent party," the US state department said in a statement, adding it had reviewed official data from the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), the UN and observers.

According to the US State Department, the discrepancies included a Unity Party candidate who placed third in the preliminary results finishing first according to the final results.

Total votes in that race increased by 55,000 votes, from 90,000 votes in the preliminary results to 145,000 in the final results.

The latest fraud allegations followed similar concerns after the first round of voting that initially saw Martelly excluded from the run-off, placing third.

Only after international pressure and street protests were those results modified, allowing Martelly to qualify in place of ruling party candidate Jude Celestin.

Ongoing violence

UN peacekeepers were placed on maximum alert in Haiti as violence flared following publication of the fraud-tainted results.

"There have been additional incidents of violence since yesterday in rural areas ... Our troops have been redeployed and are using extreme caution," said Sylvie Van Den Wildenberg, UN spokeswoman.

"Our forces are on maximum alert."

While Martelly won the presidency with a resounding 67.5 per cent of the vote, the ruling Unity Party expanded its presence in the Chamber of Deputies, taking 46 of the 99 positions, and gained an absolute majority in the upper Senate with 17 of the 30 seats, according to final results announced on Thursday.

Martelly's fledgling Reypons Peysan party won only three parliamentary seats, and to enact the reforms Haiti needs he will have to forge deals with Unity.

The Caribbean nation suffered devastating earthquake in January 2010, which killed more than 225,000 and displaced 1.5 million.

Thirty-eight per cent of resettlement camps still lack regular water supplies, their letter said. Nearly a third of camps don not have toilets. Where toilets are provided, each one is shared by an average of 273 people.

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