UPDATES WITH COMMENTS BY CEP, ADDS DETAIL ON FRAUD
By Senabri Silvestre
SANTO DOMINGO. Dom. Rep. (AA) – A special commission set up to evaluate Haiti’s elections last year has found widespread fraud and recommended that the results be annulled.
François Benoit, the president of the Independent Evaluation Commission, said late Monday that “the election should start from zero” because so many votes in the first round of presidential elections last October could not be traced.
He said nearly one-third of results at 25 percent of polling stations could not be verified by the commission. Some candidates had more votes than registered voters, names of deceased individuals were registered and it appeared that votes were traded in some instances.
"In other words we concluded that the edifice itself and the process, especially with respect to the presidential election, was marred by fraud", he said at a press conference at the National Palace.
Benoit presented the commission’s findings in a report to interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert who gave it to the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) that will have the final say on the recommendation.
The CEP was supposed to announce a timetable for run-off polls at the end of May but the commission’s head cited an enormous workload as prohibitive to meeting the deadline.
The CEP said in a letter dated May 30 but published Tuesday that it would postpone until June 6, the publication for an election timeline as it mulls the recommendation by the independent commission.
"We call for calm and for acceptance of the recommendation of the verification commission with political maturity,” Privert said, adding that Haiti does not have the luxury of going into 2017 without a president.
During the first elections, Jovenel Moïse of the Haitian Tet Kale Party lead all votes.
Jude Celestin of the opposition League Alternative for Haitian Advancement and Empowerment party was second and called the results a “massive fraud.”
Haiti has postponed run-off elections three times, originally scheduled for Dec. 27, 2015, because of allegations of fraud that have caused social unrest and violence across the country.
Former president Michel Martelly left office in February without a successor but signed an agreement with leading lawmakers by which Privert was named interim head of the state.
The deal included the inauguration of a new president May 14, but is unclear if that that commitment will be met in 2016.