Michel Martelly wins Haiti election
One of Haiti's most popular entertainers was elected president in a landslide, according to results announced Monday, placing him at the helm of a nation still struggling to recover from last year's earthquake, a cholera epidemic and chronic poverty.
The New York Times
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — One of Haiti's most popular entertainers, a provocative Carnival singer previously best known for disrobing and swearing on stage, was elected president in a landslide, according to results announced Monday, placing him at the helm of a nation still struggling to recover from last year's earthquake, a cholera epidemic and chronic poverty.
The singer, Michel Martelly, 50, known as Sweet Micky or Tet Kale (bald head), won 68 percent of the vote in a runoff election two weeks ago that he nearly did not qualify for.
He defeated Mirlande Manigat, 70, a college professor and former first lady, who won 32 percent of the vote.
When the results were announced at the election-commission offices Monday evening, firecrackers went off outside, scores of people ran chanting his name through the streets and people danced in an earthquake tent camp across the street.
Haiti's electoral council said about 23 percent of the 4.7 million registered voters cast ballots. Serge Audate, an elections official, said about 15 percent 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 April 16.
If the results hold up, Martelly will take office in May, after President René Préval, who could not seek another term under the constitution, steps down.
U.N. peacekeepers had increased patrols Monday in anticipation of the type of civil disorder that greeted the initial results in December, after a first round of voting Nov. 28 marred by fraud and disarray at the polls.
Manigat and the governing party's candidate, Jude Celestin, won the top two spots in the initial count of that election, qualifying them for the runoff.
Martelly's campaign had been overshadowed by the short-lived campaign of better-known star Wyclef Jean, who was declared ineligible to run.
But supporters of Martelly's took to the streets crying fraud, igniting days of violence that culminated in an international investigation of the results. After a report by the Organization of American States and pressure from international donors, Haitian officials removed Celestin from the ballot and replaced him with Martelly.
With tens of thousands of people displaced by the quake still living in camps, only a fraction of the rubble cleared and more than 4,600 killed by cholera since the epidemic began in October, it appears that Haitians believed only a political outsider like Martelly could change the country's direction.
In the campaign, Martelly eschewed the skirts, underwear and other outlandish outfits of his musical career in favor of tailored suits and serious talk of reforming agriculture, streamlining the delivery of humanitarian aid and restoring law and order by bringing back the military, which was disbanded more than a decade ago after a history of abuses.
Now he faces the challenge of speeding the rebuilding of a country that, long before the quake, was the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and one if its most politically unstable.
Haiti is heavily reliant on foreign humanitarian aid, dispersed through hundreds of nongovernmental organizations that operate, in effect, as a shadow government. It also relies on U.N. peacekeepers for security.
Martelly will have to share power with a prime minister picked by Parliament, where Préval's party is strong.
The country is also still reeling from the returns home of former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier in January and former shantytown priest and two-time president Jean-Bertrand Aristide last month.
Additional information from
The Associated Press and
The Washington Post
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.