The head of an Innu community in northern Labrador has narrowly held on to his position, in an election made necessary after the Federal Court found the last one with rife with problems.

Natuashish chief Simeon Tshakapesh had 156 votes in a special election held Friday, just nine votes ahead of former chief Prote Poker, who had led a campaign for a new election.

Mary Anne Nui placed third with 127 votes.

The Federal Court of Canada ordered a new vote after it found that a 2010 election had been marred by several problems, including poor controls over ballots and an incident in which a ballot box was temporarily left with Tshakapesh and not a returning officer.

Tshakapesh and Poker have for years represented different points of view in the Innu community. Poker had led the campaign to make Natuashish a dry town, which allowed RCMP to arrest people caught bringing alcohol into the community.

On Thursday and Friday, police made three separate busts involving smuggling of alcohol and drugs in Natuashish and Hopedale. All of the illegal goods were bound for Natuashish, RCMP said.  

The election results show there are still divided opinions in Natuashish, a small community that has attracted international attention over the years because of its roots in the now-abandoned settlement of Davis Inlet, an impoverished village marked by dilapidated housing and substance abuse.

Also elected as councillors were Angela Pasteen, Mary Jane Edmunds, John Nui and Gregory Rich.