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Preval says he won Haitian election
Former President Rene Preval said on Tuesday he won last week's election outright and urged Haitian elections officials to hold off publishing final election results because of possible fraud.
"We are sure of having won in the first round," Preval said in his first significant comments on the election results in the week since the vote
"If they publish these results as they are, we will contest them and if Lespwa (his political movement) contests them, the Haitian people will contest them," Preval said at a news conference a day after tens of thousands of his supporters paralysed the capital with flaming barricades and street protests, demanding he be declared the victor.
Preval, a one-time ally of deposed leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide had 48.7 percent at last report. He won the first round easily but his supporters and some elections officials said the count was being manipulated to prevent him from taking the office without a run-off. He needed 50 percent plus one vote for an outright win.
Frontrunner Alleges Fraud in Haiti Vote
Tuesday February 14, 2006 5:31 PM
AP Photo PAP132
By STEVENSON JACOBS
Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Leading presidential candidate Rene Preval said Tuesday that ``gross errors and probably gigantic fraud'' marred last week's elections, backing the protests of his supporters but urging them to be peaceful, a day after at least one person was killed in violent demonstrations.
Preval, who had just under 49 percent of the vote with most ballots counted, made the comments hours after a U.N. helicopter brought him to the capital from his rural home Monday as supporters accusing election officials of manipulating results stormed a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince.
``We want the will of the Haiti people to be respected,'' Preval said at a news conference. He urged supporters to keep up their protests, but to ``respect people's belongings'' and to be on guard against those who try to foment violence.
``I ask the Haitian people ... to be mature, to be responsible, to be nonviolent,'' he said, speaking in a calm, measured voice.
Preval, a former protege of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, enjoys wide support among Haiti's poor majority. It was uncertain, however, whether he would get the 50 percent total needed to win outright and avoid a second round of voting and no new results have been posted for more than 20 hours.
A growing chorus of rival candidates said on Tuesday Haitian voters had chosen ex-President Rene Preval in elections still undecided a week after the vote, while the government urged calm to allow the count to be completed.
The Haitian capital was more peaceful early Tuesday after pro-Preval demonstrators had paralyzed the city with flaming barricades and street marches on Monday demanding that he be allowed to take the presidency. Some roads were still blocked by rocks, tree branches and other debris but traffic was moving.
Haiti's interim government pleaded with Haitians to stay calm as elections officials counted the last 10 percent of ballots. The government was appointed after Aristide fled the impoverished Caribbean nation in the face of an armed rebellion and under intense international pressure to quit,