Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Candidate calls for vote rerun

Haiti's presidential candidate Michel Martelly speaks during a news conference at his house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

A popular singer-turned-presidential candidate whose apparent loss in Haiti's flawed election helped spark days of rioting has called for the electoral commission to be replaced and the vote redone - with all the original candidates involved.

The proposal by Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly is aimed at ending a crisis in which three candidates, including him, believe they should go to a two-person run-off.

Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, outpaced the field but fell well short of the 50% needed to win outright.

Controversy erupted when state construction chief Jude Celestin, who is backed by unpopular lame-duck President Rene Preval, edged out the musician and took the second-round spot by less than 1%.

In the aftermath, nearly all of Haiti's major cities were shut down by protests, barricades and clashes between groups of supporters and UN peacekeepers. Several people were killed.

The election was seriously flawed, with many instances of fraud, violence and intimidation confirmed by international observers.

Only 1.1 million people cast valid ballots and the US Embassy questioned the final results. But there is little interest in redoing an election that cost 29 million US dollars, 14 million dollars of which came from the US.

Mr Martelly says that instead of holding a run-off on January 16, the second round should be thrown back open to all 19 presidential candidates on the November 28 ballot, each one of whom received votes.

"As everyone suffered, as fraud was done against everyone, organise a second round ... with every candidate," he said.

Under his plan, the leading vote getter would win, with no need for another round.

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