Preval hints at staying on in Haiti

Since the November presidential and legislative elections, Haitian President René Préval gave the biggest hint that he will like to stay at the helm until the disputed polls is resolved.

Préval’s term in office comes to an end on Feb. 7.

“It would not be good for the country’s stability and reconstruction to enter a transitional government,” he told reporters in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, on Christmas Eve, stating that it would be better for the troubled, French-speaking Caribbean country if he stays in office until a new government is formed.

“My goal as president has been that when I leave, I am replaced by an elected president and an elected parliament is in place,” he added.

Former first lady, Mirlande Manigat, had emerged with the most votes in the preliminary count in the Nov. 28 elections, with 31 percent, followed by Jude Celestin, Préval’s protégé, with 22 percent.

Manigat and Celestin were expected to contest the run-off in January, but many Haitians protested the result, claiming it was fraudulent, especially in light of the elimination of popular musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, who placed third.

The final results from the Nov. 28 vote were, however, expected to be announced on Monday, but the Organization of American States asked Préval to delay announcing the results until an international panel of experts can review the vote.

By jettisoning the announcement, the OAS surmised that conflicts between supporters would abate.

The OAS said Préval agreed to submit the request to Haiti’s provisional electoral council after “intense discussions” between the OAS, electoral officials, business leaders, observers, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission, and resident ambassadors in Haiti.

OAS Assistant Secretary-General Albert Ramdin told reporters he was uncertain when the “experts” would meet to consider the review.

“To be honest, I’m not sure how long it will take,” he said.

“This is a very difficult time to put a team together,” he added. “Many experts are going home for Christmas to see their families.”

More from Around NYC