Haiti officials to re-count disputed election


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti's electoral council will re-count the vote in the country's disputed election in view of election monitors and potentially the three leading candidates themselves, the council president said Thursday.

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

Council president Gaillot Dorsainvil read a statement on Haitian radio saying that tally sheets would be re-counted with international observers and electoral officials.

"Given the evident dissatisfaction of many voters, protests and violence that followed the publication of preliminary results," the Provisional Electoral Council has decided to start a re-count immediately, he said.

Dorsainvil said it would be overseen by a commission including the electoral council, domestic and foreign observers and the three main candidates if they wish.

There was no immediate reaction from the campaigns.

Nearly all 19 candidates, all of whom received votes on the Nov. 28 ballot, have said fraud tainted the results. A coalition of at least 10 candidates reiterated their call Thursday for the vote to be thrown out.

The U.S. Embassy has also said the preliminary results appeared to conflict with reports from observers who monitored the count.

Martelly's supporters again paralyzed streets in the capital on Thursday, piling earthquake rubble into barricades and squaring off with police and U.N. peacekeepers. On Wednesday, the candidate told his supporters to continue demonstrating, and a campaign manager said he would legally challenge the announced results.

A light rain that fell through the night dampened protests. But new fires were lit and barricades still blocked intersections throughout the capital.