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Wednesday, 1 December 2010






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Haiti vote gets green light

HAITI: International election monitors declared Haitiís vital post-quake elections valid Monday, while two leading Presidential candidates rowed back on allegations the polls had been rigged.

Gripped by cholera and traumatized by Januaryís earthquake, Haiti faced the spectre of political unrest on Sunday when 12 of the 18 candidates cried foul before polls had closed. Thousands of protesters took to the streets.

But on Monday, longtime opposition leader and pre-election favourite Mirlande Manigat and popular musician Michel Martelly, another leading candidate, dramatically reversed their calls for the polls to be scrapped.

International monitors then gave their crucial verdict, deciding that although there had been widespread problems, including violence, poor organization and claims of fraud, this was not enough to doom the polls.

ďThe joint mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious though they are, should invalidate the elections,Ē said Colin Granderson, head of the observer mission from the regional CARICOM and OAS blocs.

The stakes could not be higher as hospitals overflow with victims of cholera ó the epidemic has claimed more than 1,700 lives ó and Haitians search for a leader to turn around a dysfunctional, failing nation.

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) on Sunday denied allegations it was in cahoots with the ruling INITE (Unity) party, stuffing ballot boxes to ensure victory for President Rene Prevalís handpicked protege Jude Celestin.

Election day violence was not extreme by Haitian standards but two deaths were reported and several polling stations were attacked by angry mobs.

The polls were also dogged by poor organization. Hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors were without the necessary ID cards and others had the right papers but didnít know where to vote.

The Sorbonne-educated Manigat, a 70-year-old striving to become Haitiís first female president, had enjoyed a clear opinion poll lead from Celestin, the 48-year-old ruling party candidate who lives with Prevalís daughter.

Port-A u-Prince, Tuesday, AFP



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