Former singer announced preliminary winner of presidential poll, even as rival alleges fraud.
|Hillary Clinton welcomed Martelly as president as he visited Washington on Wednesday [AFP]|
Singer Michel Martelly has officially been declared Haiti’s next president.
Pierre Thibault, a spokesman for the electoral commission, said on Wednesday that Martelly won the presidency with 67.6 per cent of the vote, defeating rival candidate Mirlande Manigat.
The announcement ends a long, drawn-out election that began on November 28 and was marred by fraud and other irregularities, several days of rioting and numerous delays.
Martelly, who had no previous political experience before he became a presidential candidate, is scheduled to be inaugurated on May 14.
On the same day that Haitian officials announced the final results, Martelly met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington. He said he spoke with Clinton about his three priorities: education, finding homes for people living in tents since an earthquake in January last year devastated much of the country, and restarting Haiti’s agricultural sector.
At a news conference, Martelly admitted he had “huge challenges” ahead of him. He called reconstruction efforts “despairingly slow.” He also stressed the need to tackle the cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 4,700 lives since October. He warned that the coming hurricane season could spread the disease countrywide.
Clinton said she welcomed Martelly as president.
“Now he has a chance to lead, and we are behind him,” she said.
Election officials also released final results for legislative elections held at the same time as the presidential poll, showing that the political party of outgoing President Rene Preval has a majority in the senate.
There is concern Martelly, whose Repons Peysan party won only a handful of parliamentary seats, will struggle with the tricky politicking required to push through badly needed reforms.
Senator Joseph Lambert told AFP news agency that Preval’s INITE (Unity) party was already trying to form a coalition government.
Last year’s earthquake killed more than 225,000 people, displaced 1.5 million, and left the capital in ruins.
On Wednesday, 53 members of the US Congress wrote to Clinton urging her to work with the Haitian government on providing rapid support for the displaced people lacking adequate shelter, water, sanitation
Thirty-eight percent of resettlement camps still lack regular water supplies, their letter said. Nearly a third of camps don not have toilets. Where toilets are provided, each one is shared by an average of 273 people.