Haiti's presidential runoff election will pit a popular singer and political novice against a former first lady with a record of political opposition, election officials announced early Thursday morning.
Michel ``Sweet Micky'' Martelly, 49, was chosen over Jude Célestin, the government-backed candidate, to compete for the Haitian presidency in a March 20 runoff. His opponent, former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70, was set to be one of the two candidates in the runoff since preliminary results of a disputed Nov. 28 election showed her in first place.
The decision over who would get a chance to replace President René Préval came after a sleepless night during which 100 Haitian and foreign journalists kept vigil inside a defunct Gold's Gym in Petionville as officials deliberated for more than 10 hours.
Elections spokesman Richardson Dumel finally appeared alone at 7:14 a.m., offering first the results of the 105 contested legislative races. The presidential runoff results were listed on the council's website. Dumel offered no explanation when he finally announced at 7:34 a.m. that Martelly and Manigat were headed into Haiti's first presidential runoff in 25 years.
The long wait only added to the suspense. The final announcement followed a day of rumors and months of political uncertainty, diplomatic wrangling and pressure by the international community, including the United States.
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