US may throw out results of Haiti vote

The United States said on Jan. 7 that it could support the tossing of the disputed results of Haiti’s first-round presidential elections if that step is proposed by a panel of experts examining the vote.

Cheryl Mills, chief of staff for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the Obama administration is waiting for the 12-member election team from the Organization of American States (OAS) to complete its report.

Mills told reporters that U.S. officials will evaluate any steps deemed necessary by the panel.

“If the OAS mission concludes that cancellation or redo needs to be considered, we obviously would be interested to understand how they came to those conclusions,” she said.

The top State Department official said the U.S. “would want to review whether or not those conclusions were ones that we, too, could support.”

“Those are the things we’d be willing to entertain, though I wouldn’t be able to tell you what we are going to do until we know what they conclude,” she said.

Haiti’s two-candidate run-off was scheduled to take place on Jan. 16, but results have yet to be finalized from the first round on Nov. 28.

That vote was criticized for low turnout, disorganization, fraud, violence and voter intimidation.

Twelve of the 19 candidates on the presidential ballot have pressed for the elections to be annulled, citing widespread fraud.

Many Haitians have questioned whether current President Rene Preval’s choice, Jude Celestin, garnered enough votes over popular musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly to advance to a runoff against former first lady Mirlande Manigat.

As a result, efforts aimed at battling the cholera epidemic and addressing reconstruction from the Jan. 12 massive earthquake last year have seriously affected.

Because of the delay, observers say Preval may end up staying on beyond the Feb. 7 end of his five-year term.

Mills did not say whether the U.S. would support Preval remaining in office beyond his term, but repeated concerns about the November vote.

The election results were “inconsistent with at least the preliminary analysis, information, quick counts and other things that we had been privy to,” she said.

A Haiti electoral council spokesman said last week that the second-round vote for a new Haitian president will not be possible until late February.

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