Haiti's Government-Backed Candidate to Be Eliminated From Presidential Runoff Election

After a thorough analysis, an international monitoring group says that it will not support the preliminary results of Haiti's presidential election.

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Haitian President René Préval

The Washington Post is reporting that an international monitoring team will recommend that Haiti's government-backed candidate be eliminated from a presidential runoff election in favor of a popular musician who finished a close third in the contested official results, according to a copy of its report obtained Monday by the Associated Press. A team from the Organization of the American States is supposed to report the findings to Haitian President René Préval today, although he is not expected to respond until after the anniversary of the devastating earthquake on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2010.

The experts found that tens of thousands more votes than previously thought should be discarded because polling-place officials did not follow procedures or there were signs that the tally sheets had been altered. According to the review, former first lady Mirlande Manigat would remain in first place with 31.6 percent of the vote after having 13,830 of her votes tossed out. Carnival singer Michel Martelly would end up in second place with 22.2 percent after having 7,150 votes ruled invalid. Ruling-party candidate Jude Celestin would drop to third place with 21.9 percent after losing 17,220 votes, eliminating him from the runoff election.

The team elected not to toss out the first-round vote or to conduct a partial "do-over" in contested areas, even though some candidates have requested it. They opted to move forward because another election would be costly and "subject the Haitian people to a further lapse in constitutional governance."

Drama and Haitian politics go hand in hand. Pockets of violence have already broken out in response to this impending news, which comes just days before the anniversary of the devastating earthquake. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. We'll be watching to see how this plays out.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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