News from Haiti

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Preval opponent says fraud may have tainted Haiti elections

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Saturday, February 11, 2006 - A presidential candidate running third in early official returns said yesterday that there were reports of multiple voting in some areas and he said the international community was too quick to endorse the long-awaited election.

Charles Henri Baker, a wealthy businessman, said he has filed a complaint with Haiti's electoral council, asking it to annul votes from any polling station Tuesday where people were found to have voted more than once.

"We're starting to hear that people voted five times, 10 times, 20 times," Baker said in an interview with The Associated Press. "This is a worry to us because we don't know if it happened at one centre, 10 centres ... or all over the country."

The electoral council reported Thursday that Baker was running third, with 6.1 per cent of the vote, far behind former President Rene Preval, who had 61.5 per cent of the 282,327 votes counted. According to the United Nations, a majority of Haiti's 3.5 million eligible voters cast ballots.

Baker said the results were based on "very minute" returns and were "really irrelevant." He also ruled out participating in a possible Preval government.

"He has a past and the past is not too brilliant," Baker said. "I would not take any positions in his government."

Baker said he didn't know whether fraud affected the outcome, but he said he was "flabbergasted that the international community would say everything went well. ... If this happened in any other country, they would say, 'Cancel the damn elections'."

Officials at Haiti's electoral office weren't immediately available for comment.

The electoral council said Thursday that former president Leslie Manigat had 13.4 per cent and Baker 6.1 per cent of the votes counted, according to figures released by election officials.