Haiti could devolve into civil war, says ex-leader

The crisis gripping cholera-ridden Haiti in the wake of disputed elections and a debilitating earthquake could devolve into civil war, the nation’s former interim leader said Tuesday, as reported by the Agence France Presse.

Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council promised a recount of the November 28 election ballots after official results set off charges of fraud and rioting by angry supporters of a losing candidate.

“This electoral process, at this current stage, could lead to civil war. We will all be both responsible for this situation and its victims,” warned Boniface Alexandre, who ruled as interim president from 2004 to 2006.

“I have a suggestion: all of the parties — those in power and the opposition — have something in common, and that’s Haiti. We must find a solution,” he told Radio Vision 2000 in Port-au-Prince.

The controversial results published earlier this month had former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the lead with 31 per cent of the vote, followed by ruling party candidate Jude Celestin with 22 per cent.

The two frontrunners were supposed to advance to a run-off scheduled for January 16, but the count was rejected by popular singer-turned-candidate Michel Martelly, who trailed Celestin by less than 7,000 votes.

Martelly’s supporters and others took to the streets after the results were announced, torching cars and government buildings and clashing with rival supporters and UN peacekeepers in violence that left at least five people dead.

President Rene Preval, accused of rigging the election in favor of his hand-picked candidate Celestin, has delayed the recount until after a mission by the Organization of American States regional bloc was in place to verify the results.

A first OAS team of six experts is scheduled to fly to Haiti on Wednesday. Preval, whose mandate runs out on February 7, has acknowledged the second round could be delayed.

Thousands of people were unable to vote in the chaotic first round, either because they were not on the register or they lacked identification papers lost in the January earthquake.

Haiti has been immersed in crisis since the earthquake, which killed 250,000 people and leveled the capital, leaving more than 1.3 million people homeless.

A deadly cholera epidemic that broke out in October has added another layer of misery and uncertainty over the country’s future.

For the original report go to http://www.montrealgazette.com/Haiti+could+devolve+into+civil/4034482/story.html#ixzz19SzFuDhg

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