Probe finds problems, but says election can go ahead

PORT-AU-PRINCE— A commission probing Haiti's disputed presidential election reported Sunday that a first-round vote was plagued by irregularities, but indicated a final run-off can take place as scheduled in two weeks.

The report says the Oct. 25 contest between 54 candidates was "stained by irregularities,'' in which poll watchers intervened to help several candidates, whom it doesn't name. It recommends possible legal action against poll workers and others involved.

It also urges measures to improve the transparency of the election, saying the dispute over the October vote shows "clearly that the electoral institution no longer enjoys the credibility that permits it to continue with the process without the danger of sinking the country into a still-more-serious crisis.''

But it did not indicate that the problems were serious enough to affect the outcome of the October vote or force further delay of the planned Jan. 17 run-off.

Opposition parties dispute official results showing pro-government candidate Moise Jovenel topping the October vote. He's due to confront second-place finisher Jude Celestin, who also has challenged the official count.

Because of the dispute, which led to boisterous street protests, Haiti's electoral council postponed the runoff, which was initially set for December, and the government named the commission to look at the process and recommend changes. (AP)