Latin America & Caribbean

Haiti's presidential run-off candidates announced

Michel Martelly (left) and Mirlande Manigat (right). File photo: January 2011
Image caption Michel Martelly (left) and Milrande Manigat (right) have made it to the second round

Haiti's presidential run-off will be between former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and popular singer Michel Martelly, election officials say.

The ruling, which came after a night of deliberations, means that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin is out of the 20 March run-off.

Initial results from November's first round put Mr Celestin through, sparking days of unrest in the Caribbean nation.

International monitors said there had been widespread fraud in his favour.

Under sustained international pressure, the ruling party, Inite, withdrew Mr Celestin from the race, but the candidate himself has been refusing to confirm that he will not take part.

The second round was supposed to take place last month, but was postponed because of the dispute.

There have been calls, including from some of the other defeated candidates, that the election should be scrapped and a new one held.

Unrest fears

Haiti's electoral commission made the long-awaited announcement about the run-off on Thursday.

Image caption Jude Celestin has so far not publicly commented on the electoral announcement

The commission earlier confirmed that Mrs Manigat had won the first round of the election held on 28 November.

However, until Thursday's ruling preliminary results had given Mr Celestin a narrow lead over Mr Martelly, triggering protests by Mr Martelly's supporters who complained of vote-rigging.

Incumbent President Rene Preval then had to call in a team of international monitors who found widespread fraud in Mr Celestin's favour and recommended that he withdraw.

Mr Preval's mandate formally ends on 7 February but he has parliamentary approval to stay in office until 14 May.

The recent political uncertainty has added to Haiti's problems as it tries to recover from last year's devastating earthquake as well as a cholera outbreak.

On Wednesday, banks, shops and schools around the country closed early to allow people to go home amid fears of further unrest.

So far there have been no reports of any violence.

The situation in the country has also been complicated by last month's surprise return from exile of former leader Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Baby Doc, as he is widely known, now faces corruption and human rights abuse charges relating to his 1971-86 rule. He has denied any wrongdoing.

In another development, the government has now said it is ready to issue former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide a passport, opening the way for his possible return.

Mr Aristide, the first democratically elected president of Haiti, was ousted seven years ago and has been living in exile in South Africa.

His party, Fanmi Lavalas, was barred from standing in the latest presidential and legislative elections, allegedly due to technical errors in its application forms.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites