Preliminary results show Martelly winner of Haiti poll

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, a popular singer-turned-politician, will be Haiti’s next president, according to preliminary results.

On Monday evening, spokesman for the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), Pierre Thibault, said Martelly had received nearly 68 per cent of the votes cast in the March 20 second round runoff, easily defeating former first lady and law professor Mirlande Manigat.

The announcement of his victory was greeted by boisterous celebrations and Martelly, who was nearly not involved in the second round after having first been declared a third place winner in the November 28 first round of balloting, is promising profound change for Haiti.

He is vowing to provide free education in a country where more than half the children can’t afford school and to create economic opportunity amid almost universal unemployment.

Martelly thanked voters in a brief statement on his Twitter account: “We’ll work for all Haitians. Together we can do it.”

Martelly grew up in Carrefour, part of the dense urban mass that makes up Port-au-Prince. He is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of a unique brand of kompas music, a style of dance music sung in Haitian Creole language.

Martelly, who has never held political office, had trailed Manigat in the first-round election in November that was marred by voter irregularities, fraud and street demonstrations.

He was put into the second round after the candidate of the party headed by outgoing President René Préval was dropped by the CEP following a fresh recount of the ballots. Martelly’s campaign gained momentum in the second round and many voters seemed enchanted with his lack of political experience in a country where the government has failed to provide many basic services.

Martelly will face a number of challenges in Haiti, which is still recovering from the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and left more than one million others homeless.

In addition, a cholera outbreak last October has killed more than 4,000 people.

The CEP has said that the final results are due to be released on April 16.

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