Haiti's Election Chief Flees the Country

Jacques Bernard, the man in charge of vote counting in Haiti's recent presidential election has fled the country, citing fears for his life. Bernard's farmhouse was burned down after the council he headed announced disputed results that returned former president Renee Preval to office.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

And I'm Alex Chadwick. Former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide said today he could leave exile and be back in Haiti. He says he's been talking to both Haitian leaders and his South African host, President Thabo Mbeki, about going back to Haiti to prevent political trouble.

BRAND: And there's plenty of political trouble in Haiti. The man in charge of vote counting in that country's Presidential election two weeks ago has now fled the country. Jacques Bernard had led Haiti's Electoral Council for just three months. He was trying to bring order to that organization.

CHADWICK: But opponents threatened his life and then burned down his farm house after the council announced disputed results that returned former President, Renee Preval, to office. We checked in with the head of the Haitian Journalists Association, he's Guy Delva in Port au Prince. He said Jacques Bernard claimed that two other members of the council attacked him.

GUY DELVA (Haitian Journalists Association): Those two members have been criticizing him and accusing him of manipulating the results of the election, which he has denied. There has been a permanent conflict between Mr. Bernard and those two other members of the Electoral Council.

BRAND: Even after the release of the first vote results a lot of people were in the streets protesting the election, and according to Guy Delva even the winning candidate, Preval himself, had denounced massive fraud in the elections.

DELVA: But now also the people who have been saying that Mr. Bernard has done a good job, you know, he came only eighteen months after the launching of the process, But in three months he managed to make a difference, but this is not the opinion of many other people.

CHADWICK: No reports yet on where Jacques Bernard has gone. Despite his departure, Guy Delva emphasized the vote count is continuing.

DELVA: There are other members of the Electoral Council who took over operations at the tabulation center. The results are trickling down now at the tabulation center and we have the first results for legislative elections in the absence of Mr. Bernard. So the process is still going on.

CHADWICK: Tomorrow, President elect Preval is expected to give his first formal press conference. So far, no comment from him on Jacques Bernard's departure.

BRAND: And Preval is scheduled to be sworn in at the end of March. As we just heard, his election came against a backdrop of much violence and chaos, and opponents are still challenging his victory. One man trying to keep peace during this transition is the recently appointed Chief of the Haitian National Police, Mario Andresol. He's considered a reformer and by all accounts he has a lot to reform. Lorne Matalon has this profile.

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