Tue, Dec 14, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Ex-leaders’ forum urges beefed up oversight in Haiti

ELECTION VIOLENCE:A spate of killings and riots marred the announcement of elections results last week. The Club of Madrid wants to avoid a recurrence

AFP, WASHINGTON

The Club of Madrid, a forum of former world leaders, on Sunday called on the international community to beef up its presence in Haiti ahead of January’s runoff vote, to prevent more of violence and alleged vote rigging.

“The Club of Madrid urgently calls on the international community to provide strengthened electoral observation for the second round as soon as possible,” the group said in a statement, adding that it “remains available to collaborate with all parties as needed.”

The group issued its statement after violence last week marred the release of the results of the Nov. 28 vote.

“Our organization is concerned with the latest developments in the country, strongly condemns any form of political violence and launches an appeal for all parties to call their supporters to non-violence,” the group said.

The independent organization aims to strengthen democratic values and leadership around the world, has a membership of more than 79 democratic former heads of state and government from 55 countries.

The Club of Madrid said it also deeply regrets the loss of life as a result of last week’s post-election violence and urged Haiti’s leadership to work with the international community to “build a legitimate, democratic, institutional framework that can alleviate the suffering of all Haitians.”

Haiti’s election saw the hand-picked protege of Haitian President Rene Preval make it through to a second round run-off, edging out popular opposition candidate Michel Martelly by less than 7,000 votes.

The country experienced violent protests over the election results, which were first announced late on Tuesday last week. The top two vote-getters in the balloting are to face off in a Jan. 16 run-off election.

In a bid to counter widespread allegations of fraud and to stave off protests, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has announced plans to add up all the tally sheets in the presence of the three main candidates.

Preliminary results showed that Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, had received 31.37 percent of the vote, while Preval’s hand-picked successor, Jude Celestin, received 22.48 percent of the vote. Martelly, 49, a popular singer known by the stage name “Sweet Micky,” finished third with 21.84 percent of the vote.

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