UN, donor nations voice concern over Haiti vote fraud

Last Updated: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 15:39

Port-au-Prince: The United Nations and Haiti`s major donor nations, including the United States, have voiced concern over allegations of fraud in final results of the country`s Legislative Elections.

Reversals in 18 legislative races raised doubts about the legitimacy of the voting process, according to Haiti`s main benefactors.

The concerns coincided with outbreaks of violence in parts of Haiti that left at least one person dead during protests over the final election tally.

A UN statement issued in Port-au-Prince on Friday congratulated President-elect Michel Martelly on his victory but noted concerns over the final tally in Legislative Elections, which overturned 17 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and one in the Senate.

"The final results have therefore raised serious concern about the transparency and legitimacy of the process," said the statement released by the United Nations on behalf of the United States, Brazil, Canada, Spain, France, the European Union and other major donors.

The statement said the United Nations and donor nations "continue to stand with the people of Haiti" and urged all Haitians "to remain calm and work through peaceful means to address this issue”.

Martelly called on Thursday for an independent probe into alleged fraud by outgoing President Rene Preval`s ruling party in the legislative vote.

On Friday, he urged the international community "not recognise" the results of the legislative elections.

"These results are unacceptable and don`t reflect the will of the people," said a statement from Martelly`s office.

The United States voiced concern over alleged fraud in the Legislative Elections and said authorities must explain how some of the final results came to be reversed.

"We have found no explanation for the reversals of 18 legislative races in the final results, which in all except two cases benefited the incumbent party," the State Department said in a statement, adding it had reviewed official data from the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), the United Nations and observers.

"The United States calls upon the government of Haiti and the (CEP) to provide a thorough, public explanation for the reversals in these 18 races" following the second-round legislative elections on March 20, it added.

Without a public explanation and a review by outside observers, "the legitimacy of seating these candidates is in question."

UN peacekeepers were placed on maximum alert in Haiti as violence flared following publication of the fraud-tainted results.

"There have been additional incidents of violence since yesterday in rural areas... Our troops have been redeployed and are using extreme caution," UN spokeswoman Sylvie Van Den Wildenberg said. "Our forces are on maximum alert."

While Martelly won the presidency with a resounding 67.5 percent of the vote, the ruling Unity Party expanded its presence in the Chamber of Deputies, taking 46 of the 99 positions, and gained an absolute majority in the upper Senate with 17 of the 30 seats, according to final results announced on Thursday.

Martelly`s fledgling Reypons Peysan party won only three parliamentary seats, and to enact the reforms Haiti needs he will have to forge deals with Unity.

According to the US State Department, the discrepancies included a Unity Party candidate who placed third in the preliminary results finishing first according to the final results.

Total votes in that race increased by 55,000 votes, from 90,000 votes in the preliminary results to 145,000 in the final results, the State Department said.

The latest fraud allegations followed similar concerns after the first round of voting that initially saw Martelly excluded from the run-off, placing third.

Only after international pressure and street protests were those results modified, allowing Martelly to qualify in place of ruling party candidate Jude Celestin.

Washington called on a joint electoral observation mission by the Organization of American States and Caribbean Community CARICOM to witness the documentation of the final results in the interest of transparency and fairness.

"The Haitian people, who have participated with great patience in the two rounds of elections, deserve nothing less," the US statement said.

Martelly faces the daunting task of rebuilding a Caribbean nation still trying to recover from a January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 225,000 people, displaced 1.5 million and left the capital in ruins.

Bureau Report



First Published: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 15:39

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