(HN, November 28, 2010) - Claiming widespread fraud and mismanagement, a dozen presidential candidates in the Haiti elections Sunday are calling for annulment of the results.
In what one foreign correspondent described as an extraordinary press conference, a statement by 12 of 18 candidates - including one of the frontrunners, the 70-year-old former first lady Mirlande Manigat - called upon the people of Haiti to mount a peaceful protest against the government and the ruling party's hand-picked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Thousands of people did protest in Haiti's two largest cities but the CEP said the election would go on.
"We ask the people to mobilize right now to show their opposition to the election," candidate Josette Bijoux said. "We need a new Haiti without fraud."
The disenfranchised candidates said the fraud was a ploy by "the corrupt government of (Haitian President) Preval" to "perpetuate his power and keep the people hostage to continue their misery."
CBC News reporter Paul Hunter said he had witnessed numerous occasions of electoral fraud.
"It was unbelievable. I have never seen anything like it," said Hunter. "We saw ballot stuffing. We heard voters who were intimidated into voting for a candidate. And we saw thugs, gangs of thugs, going into polling stations, grabbing stacks of ballots, marking them with the candidate of their choice."
Election monitors and representatives of major donor governments and the United States met after the press conference and hinted that things did not go as planned.
"We are all concerned about the possibility of violence because we don't want to see people lose live in a process that should be democratic," said Organization of American States Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin.
The United Nations said that it "and the international community expressed their deep concern at the numerous incidents that marred the elections."
Preliminary results are not expected until Dec. 7.
The chaos comes amid an ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti that has affected about 70,000 people, and has complicated the international response to January's 7.0-magnitude earthquake. A UN spokesperson said that unrest may complicate efforts to deal with the epidemic; she appealed for calm. "We appeal to the conscience of everybody; everything can be sorted out," she told the BBC.
- HUM staff, agencies