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haiti elections fraud

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitians will have to wait at least a few more days to learn the preliminary results of their presidential election because of alleged irregularities and fraud uncovered at the vote-counting center, officials said Tuesday.

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While not disclosing specifics, Gaillot Dorsinvil, the president of the Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council, issued a brief statement saying officials found a “high level” of fraud and irregularities of various kinds at the tabulation center in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Dorsinvil said the discovery has prompted lawyers to adopt “more stringent verification measures,” causing a delay in counting. He did not describe the alleged problems.

The preliminary results are now expected to be released Monday, according to Dorsinvil. They were expected to be released Thursday.

International monitors, who are observing the counting process, praised Haiti’s March 20 presidential runoff, saying it was in sharp contrast to the Nov. 28 first round that was marred by disorganization and allegations of widespread fraud.

Voters chose between Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, a popular musician who has never held public office, and Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady and senator and longtime fixture on the political scene.

Haitians are eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner of this month’s runoff vote after last year’s first round was delayed because of the chaos and massive irregularities.

The announcement of preliminary results from the disputed first round sparked nearly three days of rioting that shut down the capital. The Organization of American States eventually determined those results were flawed and Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council dropped the government-backed candidate from the runoff.

Final results are due April 16.

The election comes as Haiti struggles to recover from a cataclysmic earthquake in January 2010 that claimed more than 300,000 lives and caused billions of dollars in damage. The successor of outgoing President Rene Preval will be in charge of a multibillion-dollar reconstruction effort, along with stemming a deadly cholera outbreak that surfaced in October.

In an effort to avoid the problems that plagued the first round, elections observers are helping oversee the counting at the voting tabulation center.

A campaign worker for Manigat wasn’t surprised about the delay but held out hopes that poll workers and election observers were doing their best to keep a clean vote.

“The CEP is doing everything it can to correct irregularities,” said Smith Joseph, the Manigat campaign worker. “We are waiting to see what’s going on.”

A campaign worker for Martelly’s campaign declined to comment.

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