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Monitors validate election as candidates drop calls of fraud

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-11-30

International observers said Monday that Haiti’s chaotic elections were not “necessarily invalidated” despite serious irregularities. Two candidates also backed down from previous calls of fraud, sensing hopes of reaching the second round.

International observers said on Monday that Haiti’s chaotic elections were not “necessarily invalidated” despite violence and serious irregularities. Two candidates also backed down from previous calls of fraud, sensing hopes of reaching the second round.

International observers reported on Monday that violence, irregularities and allegations of fraud in Haiti's critical but chaotic post-quake elections were serious, but not enough to invalidate the entire process, while two front-running candidates distanced themselves from earlier demands that the ballot be cancelled.

Ambassador Colin Granderson, head of the largest observers’ mission from the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community combined, said: "The joint mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as some were, necessarily invalidated the process." FRANCE 24 correspondent Maeva Bambuck agreed with Granderson’s assessment, citing his experience in Haitian politics. “This is the third set of Haiti elections he’s observing. He knows all the tricks of the political parties here, his opinion really matters,” she said.

Much of the irregularities and chaos that occurred during the elections could be attributed not to foul play but human error, Bambuck added. “For instance, the party observers who were supposed to be inside the polling stations, some of them were left outside… I witnessed that myself. In fact, this was [because] only five of them were supposed to be in at a time, but they didn’t know that.”

Leading candidates reverse allegations of fraud

Meanwhile, two front-running presidential candidates, each expecting a potential spot in a run-off vote, backed away from their allegations on Sunday that the elections were fraudulent and illegitimate.

On Sunday, 12 of the 19 presidential candidates gathered dramatically mid-afternoon as voting was carrying on, alleging widespread fraud in the process with the aim of aiding President Rene Preval's preferred successor, Jude Celestin.

But Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly held a press conference on Monday saying he believed the votes should be counted, albeit continuing to allege fraud and criticising Preval and Celestin. A second frontrunner, former first lady Mirlande Manigat, said she would participate in a run-off if the vote count showed her among the two candidates with the most votes.

Granderson criticised the earlier fraud denunciation by the 19 candidates as "hasty and regrettable".

Both Manigat and Martelly are widely expected to have a strong chance at facing each other or Celestin in the second round, planned for January if no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote. Preliminary results from the first round are expected by Dec. 7.

The troubled elections went ahead with solid United Nations support despite a raging six-week-old cholera epidemic that has killed some 2,000 people and sickened thousands, piling more misery on a population already traumatised by a huge earthquake on January 12.

Date created : 2010-11-30

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