On Tuesday, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced former first lady Mirlande Manigat had won 31.4 percent of the November 28 presidential vote and that construction company chief Jude Célestin had earned 22.5 percent. The two candidates will compete in a runoff election on January 16.
Third-place finisher Michel Martelly, a popular singer who is known locally as “Sweet Micky” and “Bald Head,” did not advance to the runoff, having earned 6,845 votes less than Célestin.
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince responded to the CEP announcement with a statement of concern. Locally, thousands of Martelly supporters took to the streets in violent protest. They set fire to Célestin’s party headquarters, blocked streets with rubble from the January 12 earthquake, and ignited hundreds of tires. As a result, four deaths have been reported, businesses and schools were closed and the international airport shut down. In an interview with Haitian radio, Martelly urged his supporters to protest nonviolently—arguing that the only way to challenge the results was through the legal process. However, he added that he would not participate in the runoff if Célestin remained a candidate.
CEP’s ruling was questioned by international monitors who did not expect Célestin to advance past the first round of voting due to his relatively unknown status among the electorate. Célestin was widely known as incumbent president René Préval’s handpicked successor, and observers allege fraud and ballot-stuffing on the part of the CEP.