Recount promised in disputed Haiti election

Haiti’s electoral council will re-count the vote in the country’s disputed election in view of election monitors and potentially the three leading candidates themselves, the council president said Thursday.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s electoral council will re-count the vote in the country’s disputed election in view of election monitors and potentially the three leading candidates themselves, the council president said Thursday.

The decision follows rioting sparked by the announcement that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin and former first lady Mirlande Manigat were poised to enter a January runoff, while entertainer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly had apparently been narrowly eliminated.

Council president Gaillot Dorsainvil read a statement on Haitian radio saying that tally sheets would be re-counted with international observers and electoral officials.

“Given the evident dissatisfaction of many voters, protests and violence that followed the publication of preliminary results,” the Provisional Electoral Council has decided to start a re-count immediately, he said.

Dorsainvil said it would be overseen by a commission including the electoral council, domestic and foreign observers and the three main candidates if they wish.

There was no immediate reaction from the campaigns.

Nearly all 19 candidates, all of whom received votes on the Nov. 28 ballot, have said fraud tainted the results.

A coalition of at least 10 candidates reiterated their call Thursday for the vote to be thrown out.

The U.S. Embassy has also said the preliminary results appeared to conflict with reports from observers who monitored the count.

Martelly’s supporters again paralyzed streets in the capital on Thursday, piling earthquake rubble into barricades and squaring off with police and U.N. peacekeepers. On Wednesday, the candidate told his supporters to continue demonstrating, and a campaign manager said he would legally challenge the announced results.

A light rain that fell through the night dampened protests. But new fires were lit and barricades still blocked intersections throughout the capital.

Radio Signal-FM reported that a group of armed men posing as a musical group fired on a crowd on the Champ de Mars, injuring several people and killing as many as three. A witness confirmed that shooting had occurred and said several people were killed.

Radio Kiskeya had said earlier in an unconfirmed report that at least four demonstrators were killed — three in Les Cayes, about 120 miles (195 kilometres) west of Port-au-Prince in the country’s southern peninsula, and one in the northern city of Cap-Haitien.

The Canadian embassy in the Haitian capital closed on Thursday along with many other embassies because the protests made it impossible for staff to get to and from work safely.

The protests arise mostly from widespread anger at outgoing President Rene Preval, much of it re-directed at his preferred successor, Celestin, the head of the state-run construction company. Protesters set fire to the headquarters of Preval’s Unity party, traded blows with U.N. peacekeepers and shut down the country’s lone international airport.

Preval urged candidates to call off the protests on Wednesday. He acknowledged there had been fraud in the election, but said it was typical of elections around the world.

His own election was also decided through riots in 2006.

Backed by supporters of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been ousted two years before, Preval was swept into office when widespread rioting forced the cancellation of a second-round vote through a compromise that gave him more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Those supporters turned on him when he failed to bring Aristide, his former mentor, back from South African exile or improve the economy. Riots fueled by high food prices forced out his prime minister in 2008. His popularity bottomed out when Preval disappeared from public sight after the Jan. 12 earthquake and presided over a stalled reconstruction that has helped few people regain homes or income.

“We stood up for Preval then, but now we stand up against him. We thought he would bring us food, education, health … We thought he would stand for the people. But he betrayed us,” said Clarel Meriland, an unemployed 23 year old who took the streets as a teenager in 2006.

In the Nov. 28 vote, thousands of voters could not find their names on rolls still swollen with earthquake dead and there were incidents of violence, ballot-box stuffing and intimidation filmed and photographed by journalists and confirmed by international elections monitors.

Just over 1 million people cast accepted ballots out of some 4.7 million registered voters. It is not known how many ballots were thrown out for fraud.

The election was mandated by Haiti’s constitution. But there were many human-rights advocates who said it should not be held so soon after the earthquake, in the midst of a raging cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives.

The fallout from this week’s violence has shut down cities across Haiti, hindering medical aid workers’ ability to tackle cholera.

Preliminary election results put Celestin ahead of Martelly by just 6,845 votes for second place. Former first lady and law professor Manigat had 31.4 per cent of the vote, while Celestin had 22.5 per cent and Martelly 21.8 per cent.

The top two candidates advance to a Jan. 16 second round.

Manigat also told Haitian radio that she felt her reported vote tally was low. Celestin’s managers said before the election that they had expected both a first-round victory and to be accused of fraud.

American Airlines continued its suspension of flights in and out of the Haitian capital because airport employees were unable to get to work.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, centre, tables the federal budget in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday April 19, 2021. The federal government unveiled spending plans to manage the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis and chart an economic course for a post-pandemic Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
ATB Financial: Five things to know about the federal budget

Five things stand out above the rest in the federal government’s budget,… Continue reading

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Bolsonaro: Suicide by COVID

‘Rounding into the home stretch, it’s Italy by a full length, then… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Red Deer, June 28, 1990. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer and the Royal Family

The recent passing and funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Tanner Pearson, right, celebrates after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie David Rittich during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)
Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Most Read