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Haiti presidential candidates claim elections were rigged; UN urges for calm

Monday, November 29th 2010 - 06:49 UTC
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Candidates accuse President Rene Preval of ballot box-stuffing to favour his hand-picked candidate Jude Celestin Candidates accuse President Rene Preval of ballot box-stuffing to favour his hand-picked candidate Jude Celestin

Unite Nations officials Sunday expressed “deep concern at numerous incidents” that disrupted Haiti's pivotal national elections that saw violence and protests over alleged fraud.

“The United Nations and the international community expressed their deep concern at the numerous incidents that marred the elections” the U.N. mission in Haiti said in a statement from Port au Prince.

The U.N. is “urging” Haitians and political candidates “to remain calm,” noting the possible “dramatic consequences” of a deteriorating security situation in the country that is gripped by a cholera epidemic and the aftermath of a devastating January earthquake.

The UN statement followed the official announcement by the Haiti Electoral Council that the presidential elections were valid in spite of thousands of individual protests and claims by candidates that many ballots-boxes were stuffed.

“Election day has been closed and achieved. Out of 1.500 voting centers, 56 have been annulled and they will be addressed case by case and see if there was a problem”, said Pierre Luis Opent, director general of the Electoral Council.

Earlier in the day front-runner in Haiti's presidential race Mirlande Manigat denounced Sunday's national elections, calling for a complete annulment of the vote due to irregularities and ballot-box stuffing.

“I am asking my country's citizens, I am asking the Provisional Electoral Council, the government, and I'm telling the international community that as the leading candidate I'm asking for the formal cancellation of the elections” said Mirlande Manigat.

At the same time, at least five other presidential candidates gathered at a hotel in Port-au-Prince for what the campaign of contender Michel Martally billed as a press conference “to denounce today's massive fraud all over the country.”

“We have since this morning [witnessed] other elements which convince us that an operation is in play now in Haiti in order to jeopardize the election itself” Manigat said.

Her campaign manager, Wimine St. Pierre, said that Manigat “is asking to void the election across the entire territory of the country because of irregularities and the ballot boxes were already stuffed with votes for Jude Celestin,” the hand-picked candidate of outgoing President Rene Preval.

Polls opened early Sunday in Haiti as voters struggling to overcome January's massive earthquake and a spreading cholera epidemic cast their ballots for president and other lawmakers on the fragile island nation.

Haitians lined up at polling centres inside temporary shelters that are being used as classrooms 10 months after January's 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed many of the city's schools.

Voters had three ballots to fill out: a green one for president and blue and brown ballots to elect lawmakers to the Senate and parliament.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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