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Former foes endorse Martelly

by: - March 14, 2011
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Five candidates who were defeated in the first round of Haiti’s presidential election have given their support to pop singer Michel Martelly in the second round run-off.

Mr Martelly will face former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the 20 March vote. The five candidates said Mr Martelly was the candidate most likely to promote democracy and development. But they said the best solution would have been to annul the first round because of widespread fraud.

In a joint statement, defeated candidates Josette Bijou, Wilson Jeudy, Genard Joseph, Chavanne Jeune and Eric Smarki Charles praised Mr Martelly for the “spirit of openness” he had shown in his campaign. “We urge all our supporters in all corners of the country to go out and vote in mass for Michel Martelly to become president on Sunday 20 March,” the statement said.

Controversy

The Martelly camp also received a boost at the weekend when hip-hop star Wyclef Jean performed at a campaign-rally concert for the candidate in Gonaives, Haiti’s third largest city. But the candidates added that the “best solution for democracy” would have been to annul the “masquerade” of the first round. Ms Manigat won the most votes in the first round, but opinion polls give Mr Martelly a slight lead ahead of next weekend’s decisive vote.

The election to chose a successor to outgoing Haitian president Rene Preval has been mired in controversy. International observers said the first round on 28 November was marred by fraud and intimidation.
Violent unrest broke out when Haiti’s electoral authorities announced initial results that put the governing Inite party candidate Jude Celestin in second place.

Pressure from abroad

The second round was postponed, and experts from the Organisation of American States and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) were called in to assess the result. They found there had been large-scale fraud in Mr Celestin’s favour, and recommended he withdraw. After sustained international pressure, the electoral authority announced new results which put Mr Martelly through to the run-off against Ms Manigat.

Whoever wins the election faces the task of rebuilding Haiti after last year’s huge earthquake, which killed around 230,000 people and left the capital, Port-au-Prince, in ruins.

Source: BBC Caribbean