US seeks Haiti election explanation amid fraud concerns

Haitians passing election banner, March 2011 The counts for 18 seats showed last-minute changes

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The United States embassy in Haiti has said it is worried about possible fraud in recent legislative elections there.

In a statement, the embassy said the Haitian government and the country's provisional electoral commission needed to explain why a number of candidates won seats in the final results, when they hadn't been leading in preliminary counts.

Of 18 such cases, it said, 16 favoured the governing Unity party - known in Haiti as Inite - of the outgoing President, Rene Preval.

Haiti's President-elect, Michel Martelly, has called for an investigation into the results and urged Mr Preval not to ratify them.

Mr Martelly, a popular Haitian singer, won the presidency in a run-off election, with over two-thirds of the vote. But his party has won only a handful of seats in the incoming legislature.

So if he is to get much-needed legislation passed, he will have to work alongside the Unity party, which will dominate the new legislature.

It will have an absolute majority in the 30-seat Senate. And it is very close to an absolute majority in the lower house, which has 99 seats.

Haitians 'deserve nothing less'

The US Embassy in the capital Port-au-Prince queried the swings in 17 seats in the lower house, and one in the Senate.

It asked why one winning candidate from the incumbent party - who had been in third place after the preliminary count - gained 55,000 votes, going "from 90,000 in the preliminary results to more than 145,000 in the final results."

It also called for international election observers to review the 18 cases to ensure the results were fair. "The Haitian people, who have participated with great patience in the two rounds of elections, deserve nothing less," the embassy states.

Mr Martelly, who will be sworn in as president next month, has also criticised the results.

"The results of the presidential elections matched the people's will," he said in a radio broadcast. "But the results in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate seem wrong. It seems the people's vote was not respected."

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