News / Americas

Haiti to Recount Votes in Disputed Election

Electoral council says it will review the outcome of last month's presidential election, following violent protests against the results

A man pushes a wheelbarrow past a barricade of burning tires in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday Dec. 9, 2010
A man pushes a wheelbarrow past a barricade of burning tires in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday Dec. 9, 2010

Haiti's electoral council says it will review the outcome of last month's presidential election, following violent protests against the results.

The council released a statement Thursday saying it will recount the votes for the three leading presidential candidates.

Earlier this week, the council said former first lady Mirlande Manigat and ruling party candidate Jude Celestin had advanced to a runoff vote. Michel Martelly trailed Celestin by less than 1 percent and, as the third-place candidate, would not be moving on to the second round.

On Wednesday, thousands of people angered by the results took to the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, starting fires, throwing rocks and setting up barricades.  Many of them are supporters of Martelly, a popular entertainer.

Outgoing President Rene Preval called for calm after protesters set fire to the headquarters of his ruling coalition, accusing it of rigging the results of the November 28 election.

The international airport was closed Wednesday because of the unrest but reopened Thursday.  U.S. air carrier American Airlines suspended flights to and from Haiti for Wednesday and Thursday because its employees in Haiti could not get to work.

Members of the international community have expressed concern about the situation. A United Nations spokesman says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is concerned about the fraud allegations and is strongly committed to supporting free and fair election results that reflect the will of the people.

A statement from the U.S. embassy said the results are inconsistent with the published results of the National Observation Council, as well as domestic, U.S. and other international observers.

Haitian election officials say no candidate won more than 50 percent of the vote. The runoff has been scheduled for January 16.

Several presidential candidates have already challenged the election, which was held despite a cholera outbreak and marred by violence and accusations of cheating.  

But the Haitian electoral council declared the balloting a success, and international observers have said the elections should be considered valid, despite the irregularities.

Violence also erupted Wednesday in the southern town of Les Cayes, where demonstrators set fire to government buildings.

The impoverished Caribbean nation is still struggling to recover from an earthquake in January that killed more than 200,000 people and left 1 million others homeless. The cholera outbreak, first reported in October, has killed more than 2,000 people.

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