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Haiti election officials claim ballot manipulation after website discrepancy

[JURIST] Two members of Haiti's nine-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) [official website] supervising the country's presidential election claimed late Sunday that the vote was being manipulated after discrepancies appeared on the election website. Figures reported on the site showed leading candidate [JURIST report] and former president Rene Preval [Wikipedia profile] holding only 49.1% of the vote, too low to avoid a runoff election against the second-place candidate (currently another ex-president, Leslie Manigat, with 11.7% support), but a computer-generated graphic on the same site showed him with 52%. Preval told reporters: "I went to school and the CEP has given two figures, 52 percent and 49 percent. Now there is a problem... Forty-nine percent I don't pass. Fifty percent I pass." CEP member Pierre Richard Duchemin, in charge of the voting tabulation center, is quoted by Reuters as saying "The percent which is given by the graphic is done by the computer according to figures entered by a data operator and the computer can't lie...There is an unwholesome manipulation of the data. Nothing is transparent." Duchemin and fellow commissioner Patrick Fequiere blamed CEP director-general Jacques Bertrand for the problem.

Preval, a champion of Haiti's poor and a close ally of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] who was removed from power and transported out of the country in a US-backed coup in 2004, is regarded with some concern by wealthier Haitians who supported the change in government which led to the insertion of a UN Stabilization Force [official website] to quell ongoing violence. Despite some delays and early allegations of vote rigging [JURIST report], international monitors have to this point concluded that the February 7 poll was a success [IMMHE statement]. Reuters has more.

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