President warns against transitional Haiti govt

Haitian President may seek an emergency 3-month extension to his mandate.

Port-au-Prince: President Rene Preval warned it would be unwise to replace him with a transitional government if Haiti`s election mess is not sorted out before his mandate expires on February 07.

Preval`s comments, which come in the wake of disputed Presidential Elections, raised the possibility he may seek an emergency three-month extension to his mandate, a course mooted by his government earlier this year.

"It would not be good for the country`s stability and reconstruction to enter a transitional government," Preval told reporters in his first public statements on the issue since the disputed November 28 polls.

"My goal as President has been that when I leave, I am replaced by an elected president and an elected Parliament is in place."

Last month`s chaotic first round was carried out amid widespread allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of thousands of people, who either could not get the necessary papers to vote or were not on the register.

The vote further destabilised the poor Caribbean nation, which is still struggling to recover from an earthquake in January that killed a quarter of a million people and has since October been battling a cholera outbreak as well.

Preliminary results published earlier this month had former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the lead with 31 percent of the vote, followed by Preval`s handpicked candidate Jude Celestin with 22 percent.

If those results hold the two should advance to a run-off scheduled for January 16, but the count was rejected by popular singer Michel Martelly, who trailed Celestin in third by less than 7,000 votes.

Martelly`s supporters and others took to the streets after the results were announced, torching cars and government buildings and clashing with rival supporters and UN peacekeepers in violence that killed at least five people.

Preval, who has served a maximum two terms and is accused of rigging the poll in favour of Celestin, has delayed publication of the final results until an international probe has been carried out.

On Thursday, he urged the candidates to follow legal procedures and not to stir up violence.

Bureau Report