Martelly 'won' Haiti's presidential runoff

Singer Michel Martelly beat former first lady Mirlande Manigat, according to preliminary results.

    The preliminary results announcement was delayed after reports of election fraud [Reuters]
    Singer Michel Martelly has won Haiti's presidential runoff election, beating former first lady Mirlande Manigat, according to official preliminary results.

    Pierre Thibault, an electoral council spokesman, said the preliminary results showed Martelly won 67.57 per cent of the vote.

    Monday's announcement was followed by peaceful celebrations by his supporters in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

    Martelly, who has no previous government experience, had preached a forceful message of change ahead of the March 20 runoff vote, pledging to break with decades of past corruption and misrule in Haiti.

    In a contrast of styles and personalities, the presidential contest was a choice between extroverted 'Sweet
    Micky' Martelly, 50, and experienced law professor and former senator Manigat, 70.

    Martelly, a star of Haiti's Konpa carnival music blending African and Latin rhythms, was regarded as a no-hoper when he first announced his presidential bid last year  in the poor, volatile Caribbean state.

    "This is the carnival singer who campaigned on a quite populist platform, very popular with the younger generation of Haitians," Al Jazeera's Sebastian Walker reported from Port-au-Prince.

    'Irregularities and flaws'

    Definitive results of the presidential and legislative elections are due to be announced on April 16, after any legal complaints have been resolved.

    Anxious anticipation tinged with fears of violence had gripped the country since the preliminary results announcement was delayed from last week because of reported high levels of fraud.

    "[It was] postponed because of the same kind of irregularities and flaws in the electoral process that we saw in the first round back in November," Al Jazeera''s Walker said.

    "There are a lot of question marks still about the credibility of this process ... There could be days and possibly weeks of appeals to come up until the final results are delivered.

    "A lot still depends on what happens on the streets, whether the supporters of either candidate really gets out and causes trouble."

    Blue-helmeted United Nations peacekeepers patrolled Port-au-Prince and other potential flashpoints around the country, one of the world's poorest which is struggling to rebuild after being hit by a devastating earthquake in January last year.

    Some stores and businesses boarded up windows in anticipation of trouble and said they would send employees home early before the results.

    The UN and donor governments including the United States have pledged billions of dollars of reconstruction funds to Haiti.

    They want the election to produce a stable, legitimate leadership to take charge of the recovery.

    They also want to avoid the rioting and fraud allegations that marred a first round of voting held on November 28 in the elections to choose a president and some fresh members of parliament. 

    The runoff was delayed following a dispute over the result of the first round. Authorities had first said the ruling party candidate, Jude Celestin, should stand against Manigat in the second round but under international pressure, the party withdrew its candidate, allowing Martelly to run.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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