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Preval wins Haiti presidency by agreement on blank ballots

[JURIST] Rene Preval [Wikipedia profile] became the president-elect of Haiti [JURIST news archive] Thursday after the interim government and the Provisional Election Council (CEP) [official website] reached an agreement allowing him to exceed the necessary 50.1 percent of the majority of votes in the country's February 7 election [JURIST report; BBC backgrounder]. The agreement subtracted approximately 85,000 blank ballots from the total number of votes cast, giving Preval 51.15 percent of the votes, rather than the 49.76 percent [CEP partial total, PDF] he had when the blank ballots were included in the total. A result less than 50 percent would have forced a runoff with the second-place candidate, who received less than 12 percent of the vote.

Earlier this week, a Haitian television station reported the discovery of thousands of ballots [AP report] which were thrown out at a garbage dump near the capital. Some of them were cast in favor of Preval, and UN officials expressed concern because the bags were only supposed to include blank and annulled votes. Preval had previously alleged fraud in the election [JURIST report] and on Wednesday, government officials announced plans to form a commission [JURIST report] to review the election results. The agreement, announced early Thursday morning, makes the commission moot and ends a period of electoral uncertainty that had already been plagued by demonstrations and violence [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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