Haiti certifies presidential victory of first-time candidate

A supporter of presidential candidate Jovenel Moise holds up a campaign poster as he celebrates his candidate’s victory in Petion-Ville, Haiti, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. An electoral tribunal certified on Tuesday the presidential election victory of the first-time candidate. He will be sworn in on Feb. 7.
Associated Press / Dieu Nalio Chery

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ An electoral tribunal in Haiti has rejected claims that massive voter fraud marred the November presidential election victory of first-time candidate Jovenel Moise, officials said Tuesday.

The judges found some irregularities but not enough to affect the outcome based on an analysis of 12 percent of the ballots, the Provisional Electoral Council said in a statement that cleared the way for Moise to be officially declared the winner of the race.

Moise, a 48-year-old businessman from northern Haiti who was chosen by former President Michel Martelly to run as the candidate of his Tet Kale party, defeated 26 rivals in the first round on Nov. 20 and avoided a runoff. He won more than 55 percent of the vote, though turnout was low at 21 percent.

Several rivals challenged the results, but the electoral judges said they found there was no massive fraud,’’ according to the council, which was expected to formally declare Moise the winner of the election.

Supporters of Maryse Narcisse, one of the leading presidential candidates representing the Fanmi Lavalas party, marched in protest of the electoral tribunal while supporters of Moise posted posters and photos of the candidate throughout the capital and called for him to be installed as president. There were no reports of significant unrest.

Authorities annulled an initial October 2015 election that Moise also won after a special commission found significant fraud. Moise will be sworn in on Feb. 7 if he is formally declared the winner, as now expected.

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