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#4274: REUTER's FWD - Election official said fled Haiti fearing for life (fwd)
Election official said fled Haiti fearing for life
By Trenton Daniel
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Haiti's top election official has fled the
country for fear of his life after coming under pressure to release flawed
election results, diplomatic sources said Sunday.
Leon Manus, president of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), crossed
the border to neighboring Dominican Republic on Saturday and planned to reach
the United States, the sources said.
His flight followed anger over delays in the release of official results from
legislative and municipal elections held on May 21 and June 11.
Unofficial results showed the Lavalas Family, the party of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is widely expected to run for and win the
presidency later this year, was headed for a landslide victory. But
international organizations monitoring the poll have questioned the tally's
The diplomatic sources said Manus had received death threats. A CEP spokesman
said he had not come to work on Friday but had been expected to show up on
Monday. No other details of his movements were available on Sunday.
Pressure for Manus to publish the election results mounted on Friday when
hundreds of Lavalas partisans burned tires and threw stones throughout the
capital, insisting that the CEP announce the results by 2 a.m. It did not.
On Thursday two opposition party members from the CEP stepped down after
pressure from fellow opposition party members.
The election, Haiti's first national vote in more than three years, was
considered a critical step in Haiti's struggle to build a stable democracy
after decades of dictatorship and military rule.
But the election turned sour two weeks ago when the Organization of American
States Electoral Observation Mission, said the CEP, a nine-member body
assigned by the Constitution to organize the elections, had miscalculated
voting percentages. The OAS asked the CEP to recalculate the votes.
Haiti's government has been paralyzed for most of the past three years after
parliamentary elections held in April 1997 were declared fraudulent.
President Rene Preval dissolved Parliament in January 1999 and has ruled by
Preval succeeded Aristide, Haiti's first freely elected leader who was ousted
by a military coup in 1991 then restored to power by a U.S.-led invasion in
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