Two Main Presidential Candidates Reject Recount in Haiti –

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Two of the top three candidates in Haiti’s disputed presidential election have rejected a proposed recount, threatening to torpedo a compromise aimed at quelling days of riots and violence over allegations that the vote was rigged.

Only the candidate of the governing party, Jude Célestin, supports the offer by the electoral council to retabulate tally sheets from thousands of polling stations.

Mr. Célestin, President René Préval’s chosen successor, came in second in the Nov. 28 election. Mirlande Manigat, who came in first, and Michel Martelly, who came in third, objected to the recount.

Violence had largely subsided in most parts of the capital by Saturday and many people rushed to reopened markets to stock up on food, water, fuel and other supplies in fear that more protests could erupt again. Blockades and rock-throwing continued in a few areas.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, arrived in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Saturday, with the evangelist Franklin Graham. They were expected to visit cholera-treatment centers and other projects undertaken by his charity group.

Ms. Manigat, a law professor and former first lady, is all but guaranteed a spot in a Jan. 16 runoff between the top two finishers.

She rejected the recount because the proposal did not include clear procedures or a timetable, her campaign said in a statement issued Friday. She said she was open to other initiatives to settle the crisis.

Mr. Martelly, a popular singer, finished a few thousand votes behind Mr. Célestin and would be eliminated from a runoff if the current results stand. His supporters have led many of the protests that paralyzed the capital for most of the week, and he joined many of the other 18 candidates in denouncing the election as rigged well before the polls closed.

“We cannot accept a recount by the very same group that manipulated the elections in the first place,” he said Saturday. He insisted that a fair count would show that he had placed first.

Mr. Célestin’s campaign also claims that the result was botched, and that in reality he finished first. Senator Joseph Lambert, who runs his campaign, said Saturday that Mr. Célestin would accept the recount process to ensure “the transparency of the system.”

The election had widespread problems, taking place in a nation devastated by a January earthquake that threw a million people into the streets and by a deadly cholera epidemic.

Thousands of voters did not get ID cards in time for the election, could not find their names on incomplete voting lists still swollen with people who had died in the quake, or were turned away inexplicably by poll workers. Monitors reported killings, voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing.

The State Department expressed concern that the results did not match pre-vote polling, which showed Mr. Célestin not ranking among the top finishers.

The United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community also cited problems but said they should not invalidate the election.