Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Musician claims Haiti's presidency

Musician Michel Martelly, right, pictured here with fellow singer Wyclef Jean, has won Haiti's presidential election

Musician Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly has scored a come-from-behind victory in Haiti's presidential run-off, according to preliminary results from last month's election showing he easily defeated a former first lady for the leadership of a country facing enormous challenges.

Mr Martelly, who has never held political office, received nearly 68% of the vote in the two-way race with Mirlande Manigat, electoral council spokesman Pierre Thibault said in an announcement that was immediately followed by noisy celebration in the Haitian capital.

Thousands of Martelly supporters poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince, carrying Martelly posters, climbing onto cars and cheering loudly. A huge crowd of singing and chanting supporters marched to his house.

"Today is a big day for me," Jeanor Destine, 22, said as he ran through the streets. "We're finished with the old government and want to bring in a new government. We've been through so much misery. That's why we're supporting Martelly."

The popular musician, a star of the Haitian genre known as compas, had trailed Ms Manigat in the crowded first-round election in November.

But his campaign gained momentum in the second round, with many voters seemingly enchanted with his lack of political experience in a country where the government has failed to provide basic services.

In a message posted in Creole on Twitter, the popular musician thanked his supporters: "Thank you for your confidence ... We're going to work for all Haitians. Together we can."

Haiti's electoral council said that about 23% of the 4.7 million registered voters cast ballots.

Serge Audate, an elections official, said about 15% of the tally sheets had problems suggesting possible fraud, including cases in which more votes were cast than registered voters in some polling stations, and had to be quarantined. Final results are to be announced on April 16.

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