- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s interim government ordered a review of election results yesterday, hours after leading presidential candidate Rene Preval, who appeared set to fall short of a first-round victory, claimed the count was marred by “massive fraud.”

“The government wants to make sure that everything with the process is correct,” said interim Interior Minister Paul Magloire.

Mr. Preval had promised to contest the results, which he said “do not correspond with reality.”

“We are convinced that either massive fraud or gross errors stain the [electoral] process,” Mr. Preval said.

He urged supporters to protest peacefully, a day after at least one pro-Preval demonstrator was killed and followers elsewhere occupied a hotel.

The review will be conducted by a commission comprised of the president’s office, the electoral council and Mr. Preval’s party, said Michel Brunache, chief of staff of interim President Boniface Alexandre.

Mr. Magloire said the commission will be formed in the coming days and that the review of the voter tally sheets “will be very fast.”

Tens of thousands of Mr. Preval’s backers, most from Haiti’s majority poor, have flooded the streets of the capital since Sunday to protest what they called a rigged election.

The most recent election results, posted Monday, showed that Mr. Preval, a former president, had 48.76 percent of the vote with 90 percent of the ballots counted. He would need 50 percent plus one vote from the Feb. 7 election to avoid a March runoff.

His nearest opponent was Leslie Manigat, another former president, who had 11.8 percent.

The U.N. Security Council urged all Haitians to respect election results and refrain from violence yesterday as it extended the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti for six months, until Aug. 15.

A popularly elected government with a clear mandate is crucial in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.

In the two years since the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, gangs have gone on kidnapping sprees and factories have closed for lack of security.

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