As Haitian elections near, UN voices concern at electoral violence

16 March 2011

Voicing deep concern at acts of violence marring the campaign for Sunday’s elections in Haiti, some of them fatal, the United Nations today called on all candidates, especially those in the presidential run-off, to avoid threats, intimidation and harassment.

“Consolidation of democracy in Haiti depends largely on the will of politicians to adopt the principles of a peaceful transfer of power and to accept election results in accordance with mechanisms provided by the electoral law,” the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) said in a news release.

Former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular musician Michel Martelly are facing off in the presidential poll, which was delayed by two months when violence erupted after disputed first round results were announced in December.

Thousands of protesters rampaged through the streets of Port-au-Prince, the capital, accusing the ruling coalition of rigging the polls when tallies put Ms. Manigat and outgoing President Rene Préval’s party candidate Jude Celestin in first and second place, thus qualifying for the run-off.

Mr. Martelly was less than one percentage point behind in third place, but thus excluded from the run-off, and his supporters set up burning barricades of timber, boulders and flaming tires. After a re-examination of the ballots, the Provisional Electoral Council last month announced that Mr. Martelly had come in second and would thus face Ms. Manigat.

“MINUSTAH urges all candidates as well as their followers to safeguard the integrity of the democratic process and to scrupulously respect the primacy of the law,” today’s news release said, noting that any call to demonstrate before the publication of the results violates the electoral law.

The mission, with almost 12,250 uniformed personnel currently on the ground, has been in Haiti since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest.

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