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“Sweet Micky” Martelly Claims Victory In Haiti Election

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Michel Martelly

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PORT-AU-PRINCE (CBS4) — Former singer and first time political candidate Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly has beaten former first lady  Mirlande Manigat to become the next president of Haiti.

Martelly reportedly received nearly 68 percent of the vote.

His campaign posted in Creole on Twitter: “Thank you for your confidence. I bloom for all my people. We’re going to work for all Haitians. Together we can.”

After the results were read by electoral council spokesman Pierre Thibault, supporters filled the streets of Port-au-Prince to celebrate.

“Today is a big day for me,” Jeanor Destine, 22, said as he ran through the streets. “We’re finished with the old government and want to bring in a new government. We’ve been through so much misery. That’s why we’re supporting Martelly.”

The United Nations stepped up security in Haiti in anticipation of Monday’s announcement. Police patrolled the streets and businesses boarded up windows s Haitians awaited the delayed preliminary results from last month’s presidential election.

The extra police presence, a combination of Haitian national police and U.N. peacekeepers, was intended to prevent a repeat of the violence that followed the December announcement of the apparent winners from the first round.

President Rene Preval was barred from running for a third term under the constitution.

As the new president, Martelly will face a challenging environment that includes a Senate and Chamber of Deputies controlled by Preval’s party and widespread anger over the slow progress of reconstruction from the January 2010 earthquake.

“He doesn’t have any kind of backing in parliament. It’s controlled by Preval,” said Yves Colon, a journalism professor at the University of Miami who follows Haitian politics. “It makes me wonder how he’ll be able to achieve anything with that kind of dynamics. Proposed laws could be held up or not even brought up for a vote. The next five years could be a total back forth between the presidency and the parliament.”

The electoral council was supposed to release preliminary results on March 31. But officials said they had to delay the announcement to give observers more time to review suspected fraudulent ballots. Final results are scheduled to be released on April 16.

Much of Haiti was paralyzed by riots after the council announced first-round results that excluded Martelly from the runoff. The Organization of American States later determined those results were incorrect and the musician had come in second and gained a spot in the second ballot.

Martelly will also face intense scrutiny from South Florida, home to the largest group of Haitians outside of the ravaged nation. While many South Florida Haitians are still citizens of their homeland, they were barred from taking part in the election unless they traveled home. For many that was impossible, either due to questionable immigration status or a financial inability to travel.

Final results are due to be released April 16.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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