Recount ordered for disputed election

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The Independent US

Haiti's electoral council will re-count the vote in the country's disputed election with the three leading candidates present, the council's president said yesterday.

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

The council's president, Gaillot Dorsainvil, read a statement on the radio saying the ballots would be re-counted with international observers and electoral officials watching. He invited the three top candidates to monitor it.

Nearly all of the 19 candidates on the 28 November ballot have said fraud tainted the results. Mr Martelly's supporters again paralysed streets in the capital, piling rubble into barricades and confronting police and UN peacekeepers.

The US embassy has said the preliminary results appeared to conflict with reports from observers who monitored the count. The protests arise out of widespread anger at outgoing President René Préval and his preferred successor, Mr Celestin, the head of the state-run construction company. Protesters set fire to the headquarters of Mr Préval's Unity Party, fought UN peacekeepers and shut down the international airport.