PORT-AU-PRINCE — A controversial carnival singer who reinvented himself into a polished political outsider is poised to become Haiti’s next president, according to preliminary election results announced Monday.
Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly garnered 67 percent of the vote to 31 percent for longtime opposition leader and former first lady Mirlande Manigat, the Provisional Electoral Council said.
The announcement was greeted with fireworks as fans spontaneously paraded in the streets carrying Martelly’s pink posters and beeping car horns.
Supporters ran in front of elections headquarters singing, "Martelly, the country is for you. Do what you like with it."
Others sang "Tet Kale," the bald-headed one, Martelly's moniker during the campaign.
"The country is sweet, now. Change is coming," said Louis Viccues, 42, who works at a dry cleaner. "Nothing is worse than to be living in a country and working, and you cannot eat."
But while Martelly, 50, won with a 2-1 margin, the results will likely be challenged by Manigat, 70, before they are certified.
After The Miami Herald first reported the results Monday, Manigat's campaign sent a letter to the justice minister accusing Electoral Council President Gaillot Dorsinvil of influencing the results during a late Sunday night visit to the vote tabulation center.
Even with the challenge, Haiti’s streets remained free of violence that the international community had feared if Martelly had lost. Although there had been a perception for weeks that Martelly had won, his campaign was unsure of the outcome even as advisors put him through governance tutorial courses and met to map out the transition.
The news of Martelly's win was met with cheers and disbelief by Haitians here and abroad who both embraced and rejected his presidential bid, a well-financed modern campaign complete with foreign consultants and live Twitter and Internet feeds.
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