Monitor calls for official candidate to be barred from Haiti election

An investigation into the elections in Haiti, which were mired in corruption and violence, is said to have concluded that the government's candidate failed to qualify for the second round run-off for the presidency.

International monitors from the Organisation of American States (OAS) have recommended that Jude Celestin be disqualified from the electoral process after accruing the highest number of disqualified votes. Michel Martelly, a former cross-dressing jazz singer, and Mirlande Manigat, the wife of a previous president, should be the ones going forward to the next round, the leaked report says.

The monitors' tally of the polls contradicts the government's version, which pushed Mr Martelly, a populist with strong support among the country's dispossessed, into third place and out of the running. Those figures, announced last December, led to rioting, with protesters burning down the headquarters of the ruling party.

The OAS estimates take into account the numbers of suspect votes, which are subtracted from the calculations. According to this calculation, Ms Manigat is in first place with 31.6 per cent of the backing, after 13,800 ballot papers were deemed to be ineligible. Mr Martelly comes next with 22.2 per cent and 7,150 respectively and Mr Celestin last with 21.9 per cent after losing 17,220 votes.

The OAS report says: "After a thorough analysis the Expert Mission [monitoring group] has determined that it cannot support the preliminary results of the presidential elections released on 7 December 7, 2010 ... Should this recommendation be implemented, the position of the candidate in third place should change to second and the candidate now in third place should move to second."

President René Préval – who cannot, under the constitution, stand for a third term – had picked Mr Celestin as his successor. He is not expected to pronounce his response to the monitors' report until today's anniversary of the devastating earthquakes suffered by Haiti.

Some supporters of Mr Celestin have said that they will refuse to accept the OAS conclusions, which they described as foreign interference in Haiti's sovereignty. The OAS report has also come in for criticism from a number of independent analysts who have carried out their own study of the election.

Mark Weisbrot, a director of the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research, said: "The system used to arrive at these figures are flawed and results that have been presented are arbitrary. The methodology used does not make sense. Preval would be justified in rejecting these conclusions."

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