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14 January 2011

France warned Haiti’s government on Friday to respect a report by OAS poll monitors that is thought to call for President Rene Preval’s preferred successor to drop out of the election race.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) handed its report to Preval’s government on Thursday, and a leaked draft suggested that Preval’s chosen heir Jude Celestin step aside after fraud in the first round of voting.

“Now it’s time to recognise the consequences of the definitive results of the first round of voting so that they reflect the choice expressed by voters,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

Haiti’s rival political camps disputed the results of the November 28 first round of voting, and Preval’s government has been pushing for Celestin to face frontrunner Mirlande Manigat in a run-off.

But, according to the leaked version of the OAS report, once fraudulent ballots are discounted Celestin came in third behind rival Michel Martelly, and should therefore bow out before the next vote.

It is not clear what the government’s reponse will be, and there are fears that Haiti — already ravaged by a cholera epidemic and the after effects of last year’s devastating earthquake — could be headed for unrest.


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