Michel Martelly, otherwise known as kompa star “Sweet Micky,” was declared the winner of the Haiti’s presidential election according to preliminary results released by the Provisional Electoral Council yesterday. Martelly, 50, received 68 percent of the vote in the March 20 runoff, besting constitutional law professor and former first lady Mirlande Manigat.
While he is best known for his carnival music, on-stage antics and profanity, Martelly reinvented himself during the campaign as a clean-cut, antiestablishment politician focusing on reforming education and agriculture and streamlining delivery of $18 billion in promised humanitarian aid. His image as political outsider makes him popular among Haiti’s poor, but Martelly will have to court the Haitian elite to guarantee political support of his policies.
The likely next president is already ruffling some feathers among the upper crust with his plan to reinstate the Haitian Armed Forces that was disbanded by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995. Martelly will face the challenge of sharing power with a prime minister chosen by Haiti’s parliament, where incumbent president René Préval’s INITE party holds significant sway.
Though preliminary results show that Martelly won by a landslide, Manigat will have a chance to appeal the preliminary results before the official numbers are announced on April 16. If the results stand, Martelly will be sworn in as Haiti’s 44th president of Haiti in May and face the daunting task of rebuilding a weakened public sector in a country currently dominated by nongovernmental organizations.
A 10-person team from the Organization of American States (OAS) completed a report on Monday that concluded that Michel Martelly won more votes than previously announced in the Haitian presidential elections on November 28, 2010. The controversial election placed ruling-party candidate Jude Celestin in second place, qualifying him for a second round run-off over the popular kompa star Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly. After reviewing the results, the OAS disqualified 17,220 votes for Celestin and 7,150 votes for Martelly, giving Martelly the second-place victory with 22.2 of the vote.
The Haitian government asked the OAS to review the election after widespread protests and violence broke out following the initial release of results on December 7, 2010. The clashes between protesters—mostly Martelly’s supporters—and UN Peacekeepers left at least five dead.
President René Préval and the Haitian Electoral Committee have denied accusations of fraud and ballot-stuffing. Now that the OAS results clash with the Haitian government’s—and cites the strong possibility of fraud—Préval has not yet accepted the OAS report. Whoever is chosen as the second-place finisher will face first place Mirlande Manigat in a run-off that is postponed until February 2011.