- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti | The United Nations on Monday counseled against violence after Haiti’s electoral council refused demands by almost all of the major presidential candidates to throw out Sunday’s election results because of fraud allegations as many voters were turned away from the polls.

The U.N. mission to Haiti lamented “numerous incidents” that threatened the country’s first vote since January’s earthquake and warned “deterioration” of security could complicate efforts to treat a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 1,700 since October.

U.N. soldiers helping Haitian police guard polling places increased their presence Monday at the Electoral Council, where thousands protested after 12 of 18 candidates released a joint statement calling for protests to demand the vote be voided.

Electoral Council President Gaillot Dorsinvil denied fraud allegations and told Radio Metropole the vote was a “success,” with validated ballots from 96 percent of polling stations.

Front-runner Mirlande Manigat, a university professor and former senator whose husband was ousted after four months in office in 1988, accused the ruling INITE party of “massive fraud” and intimidation of voters at polls.

INITE candidate Jude Celestin, who was tapped to run by President Rene Preval, was the only one among leading candidates who did not join calls to toss out the results.

Election results aren’t expected until at least Dec. 7.

Clashes between rival political factions killed two people in the capital, Metropole reported. Voting was halted early in two northern towns as residents protested irregularities, while many voters in tent camps housing 1.3 million quake victims complained they were turned away from the polls.

At least 250,000 people were killed in January’s massive earthquake, and tension has mounted over the past 11 months as a lackluster aid effort has failed to meet needs of camp dwellers. Moreover, a cholera outbreak has intensified animosity toward the U.N. peacekeeping force.

The Organization of American States has said as many as 10 percent of voters were denied voter IDs before the vote, but the OAS did not give a statement immediately after the vote.

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, said the vote should be scrapped and the Electoral Council replaced before staging another election.

“The international community should reject these elections and affirm support for democratic institutions in Haiti,” Mr. Weisbrot said. “Otherwise, Haiti could be left with a government that is widely seen as illegitimate.”

Calls for an overhaul of the Electoral Council grew from its banning the Fanmi Lavalas party, led by supporters of exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, from last year’s Senate elections for not filing proper paperwork.

The party boycotted last year’s vote, which saw an 11 percent turnout, according to Mr. Dorsinvil, whose appointment to the council was approved by Mr. Preval.

Mr. Dorsinvil defended the council’s neutrality and said he expects voter turnout to be higher in the presidential election amid rebuilding efforts.

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