Protesters clash with police in Port-au-Prince while demanding the annulment of Haiti’s election results.
|Haiti has been rocked by violence after last month’s presidential vote was disputed by the top candidates [Reuters]|
The Organisation of American States (OAS) has requested Haiti to postpone announcing the election results until an international panel of experts can review the vote.
Officials on Saturday said Jose Miguel Insulza, the OAS chief, asked Rene Preval, the Haitian president, to delay releasing the final tally of the disputed elections.
Final results from the first round in the November 28 poll, showing which of the top three quarrelling candidates would go on to a January runoff, were expected on Monday.
Delaying the announcement would postpone conflicts between rival supporters, which resulted in riots and deadly clashes this month.
But the international panel of up to five electoral, legal and information-technology experts has not even been formed, raising concerns that the review could drag into the new year.
In a statement the OAS said on Saturday Preval agreed to submit the request to Haiti’s provisional electoral council after “intense discussions” between the OAS, electoral officials, business leaders, observers, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission, and resident ambassadors in Haiti.
The Haiti electoral commission has said it will review the results of the presidential elections released earlier this month after Preval’s handpicked candidate Jude Celestin defied predictions to win a place in a run-off vote.
“We will see if everybody agrees these terms of reference, then start the process of clarification and recount,” Albert Ramdin, the OAS’ assistant secretary-general, said.
It was 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,” he added.
“I’m telling you, if they come back to us with bad solutions, the people are going to take to the streets”
Ramdin also said the special mission “can only be successful if it is given access to all the information and an independent report is guaranteed”.
The electoral commission plans a recount of tally sheets in the presence of the three main candidates, although popular singer Michel Martelly, ousted in the first round, and Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady who topped the poll, have refused to take part.
Martelly on Wednesday warned that his supporters could “take to the streets” to protest what he insists were flawed election results.
“I’m telling you, if they come back to us with bad solutions, the people are going to take to the streets,” he told AFP.
Martelly has also called for a re-run of the entire vote with all 18 candidates, and with the victor claiming the presidency.
UN peacekeepers in riot gear had to restore order in major cities last week after at least five people were killed in politically-charged riots, but the streets of the capital Port-au-Prince have been calm since Friday.
Haiti’s chaotic election was carried out amid widespread allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of thousands of quake survivors and slum dwellers, who either couldn’t get the necessary papers to vote or weren’t on the registry.