PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A popular Haitian musician, rather than the government's candidate, should advance to a presidential runoff, an international panel of election experts recommended Monday.
The group, convened by the Organization of American States at the request of President Rene Preval, also said that while 50,935 votes were discarded because of fraud, the disputed Nov. 28 presidential elections could be salvaged if the rest of the electoral process is handled correctly and Haiti's political forces allow that to happen.
The experts spent 10 days scrutinizing thousands of tally sheets and backup voting documents.
"After a thorough statistical analysis … the Expert Mission has determined that it cannot support the preliminary results of the presidential elections," says the report, obtained by the Miami Herald.
The team said its verification showed that musician Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly had 22.2 percent of the vote while Jude Celestin, the government candidate, received 21.9 percent. The result, which reverses the preliminary tally, would put the singer in a runoff with former first lady Mirlande Manigat, who received 31.6 percent.
But with only 0.3 points separating Martelly from Celestin, the results are up for debate should Preval's political platform or Celestin choose to challenge them.
Martelly and Celestin declined to comment on the report, saying they had not seen it.