PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian musician Michel Martelly has pulled off a come-from-behind victory in Haiti’s presidential race.
Haiti’s electoral council says preliminary results show the performer known as “Sweet Micky” received nearly 68 percent of the votes in the March 20 runoff.
Martelly has defeated former Haitian first lady Mirlande Manigat, according to the results announced Monday by electoral council spokesman Pierre Thibault.
Manigat led the first round of voting in November that winnowed a field of 18 candidates down to two for the runoff.
Many Haitians say they find Martelly’s lack of political experience an asset in a country where the government has provided few services.
Final results for the runoff are due April 16.
International monitors on Monday praised Haiti’s weekend presidential election, saying it was in sharp contrast to the Nov. 28 first round that was marred by disorganization and allegations of widespread fraud.
There were some incidents of attempted ballot-stuffing and clashes between rival political parties but not enough to disrupt the overall vote Sunday, said Colin Granderson, chief of the Organization of American States election observer mission in Haiti.
Turnout appeared to be higher than in November, but figures would not be available until the preliminary vote results are released March 31, Granderson told reporters. He said an OAS team of experts would monitor the ballot counting.
Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, a popular musician who has not previously held political office, ran against Mirlande Manigat, a university administrator and former first lady and senator.
Martelly was considered the favorite because his rallies attracted more people, although that could have been because of his star power. He often combined political events with concerts, sometimes with Haitian-American entertainer Wyclef Jean at his side.
Manigat led the first round among 18 candidates. Martelly initially was placed third and out of the runoff, leading to street protests by the entertainer’s supporters. The OAS later determined the vote count was flawed and said he should have been in second, replacing government-backed candidate Jude Celestin.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday congratulated Haiti for the relatively peaceful second round.
“The United Nations was honored to support the Haitian people in exercising their right to choose their next government, whose primary task would be to oversee the reconstruction of the country after the tremendous tragedies that have befallen it in the past year,” Ban’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said.