Haitian election goes to 2nd round
Law professor Mirlande Manigat will be in a run-off against government-backed candidate Jude Celestin in a second round to determine Haiti's next president, the provisional electoral council announced Tuesday.
The Provisional Electoral Council announced the run-off between the two top vote-winners after no candidate gained the more than 50 per cent required to win in the first round of the presidential and legislative elections.
Preliminary results of the controversial election also show popular carnival singer Michel (Sweet Micky) Martelly trailing Celestin by about 6,800 votes, or less than one per cent.
This could mean Martelly could also be put on the run-off ballot. Electoral officials have said the race may be expanded to three candidates if the vote count is close.
Concerns about the vote centred around conflicts between the announced results and those reported recently by a local election monitoring group financed by the European Union — the National Observation Council — which said that Celestin, a protege of outgoing President Rene Preval, would be eliminated.
"The Government of the United States is concerned by the Provisional Electoral Council's announcement of preliminary results … that are inconsistent with the published results of the National Election Observation Council," as well as with reports from U.S. observers and vote counts by domestic and international observers, the U.S. Embassy said in an emailed statement.
After the results were released Tuesday night, flaming barricades were set up near the Petionville restaurant where the tallies were announced, The Associated Press reported. Martelly supporters threw rocks at people passing nearby and gunshots rang out.
A run-off vote is scheduled for Jan. 16. Reports of blatant ballot box stuffing and other types of fraud have many Haitians calling for the Nov. 28 vote to be cancelled.
Journalists and observers watched as some people voted multiple times, and gangs trashed some polling stations, with marked ballots thrown into the streets.
A dozen of the presidential candidates are demanding a new election.
Celestin is seen as the government's candidate and preferred successor of increasingly unpopular President René Préval, who cannot seek re-election under the constitution.
The political unknown's campaign was the best-funded of the group of candidates, but Préval's inability to jump-start a moribund economy or push forward reconstruction after last January's devastating earthquake has hurt his protege's chances for a win.
Martelly, known as Sweet Mickey by fans of his music, had said if Celestin makes it into the second round, he would contest the results.
With files from The Associated Press