Michel 'Sweet Micky' Martelly advances in Haiti election over president's pick
Amid pressure from international observers, Haiti's election commission advanced singer Michel 'Sweet Micky' Martelly into a runoff vote for the presidency against former First Lady Mirlande Manigat.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
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The months-overdue announcement Thursday morning from Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) about who will advance to an election runoff for the presidency broke an electoral impasse that had gripped the country since Nov. 28, when Haitians went to polls in the first-round of voting.
But election observers caution that the road ahead still looks rocky.
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"I'm not confident that just finalizing the results from the first round will bring stability to the country," says Robert Fatton, a University of Virginia professor who studies Haiti. "The first round was clearly fraudulent. What's to say that the second round will be any better?"
Mr. Martelly and former First Lady Mirlande Manigat will now face off in second-round presidential voting on March 20.
Allegations of vote fraud
The announcement comes during a complex period in Haiti’s post-earthquake political landscape that began with the disputed first-round vote. That day of voting ended in violent demonstrations in Port-au-Prince after 12 of the 19 presidential candidates – including Martelly and Ms. Manigat – called for the election to be annulled due to fraud.
Initial poll results from the CEP had placed Mr. Célestin, who was endorsed by President René Préval, ahead of Martelly by a margin of less than 1 percent of the vote, with Ms. Manigat firmly in the lead.
A team from the Organization of American States (OAS) analyzed a sample of ballots and suggested Martelly, not Célestin, compete in the run-off election.
The OAS findings were backed by the international community and pushed by the US. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Haiti on Sunday to urge Mr. Préval and the candidates to accept the report’s findings. President Préval had initially balked at the OAS recommendation, but under international pressure, his INITE (Unity) party released a statement last week urging Célestin to step aside.
'Sweet Micky' has popular support
Martelly, known as “Sweet Micky,” was a colorful kompas musician before turning to politics. His profile as a singer won him support in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s toppled capital. He also received an endorsement from Pras Michel, a Haitian rapper and former member of band The Fugees with Wyclef Jean, who also sought to run for the presidency.
Stevenson Lafond, a 27-year-old voter, recently told the Monitor that he wanted to see a new face in office. “’Sweet Micky’ isn’t a politician. He comes from outside politics and we’ve had enough politicians as president. They haven’t done much for us," he says. "Why not give someone from outside a chance?”