Haiti second round vote to be delayed

Haiti will not be able to hold a second round of its disputed presidential election before February.

Haiti second round vote to be delayed

Haiti will not be able to hold a second round of its disputed presidential election before February as it awaits a report from regional experts on contested preliminary results from the Nov. 28 first round, a senior electoral official said on Tuesday.

The outcome of Haiti's chaotic November elections has remained in limbo since violent protests greeted the Dec. 7 preliminary results of the first round vote in the Caribbean nation. The presidential and legislative polls were held amid confusion, fraud allegations and a raging cholera epidemic.

The Western Hemisphere's poorest state is preparing to mark the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck a year ago on Jan. 12. There are fears the political instability will delay the handover of billions of dollars of urgently needed reconstruction funds from foreign donors.

"Today we are at a dangerous crossroads," outgoing President Rene Preval said in a Haitian Independence Day broadcast over the weekend.

He rejects accusations by opposition presidential candidates that he and his ruling Inite (Unity) coalition rigged the vote to put their contender in the second round.

Responding to international concern over reported irregularities in the Nov. 28 vote results, Preval requested help from the Organization of American States and a team of OAS experts is working on verifying the preliminary tally.

But this has delayed the original electoral timetable which had foreseen final first round results being announced on Dec. 20 and a second round run-off being held on Jan. 16.

"It will be materially impossible to hold the run-off on Jan. 16," Pierre-Louis Opont, director general of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, told Reuters.

"From the date of the publication of the final results of the first round, we will need at least one month to hold the run-off," the electoral official added.

But he could not say when the final results of the Nov. 28 first round might be announced, saying only that this would follow the report by the OAS experts and completion of the process that deals with challenges to the results.

The Dec. 7 preliminary results put Jude Celestin, a little-known government technocrat and Preval protege, in a second round run-off with former first lady Mirlande Manigat.


Reuters

Last Mod: 05 Ocak 2011, 18:33
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