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September 26, 2017

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Moise wins Haiti presidential election redo

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A political newcomer who was the chosen successor of Haiti's previous elected leader easily won a presidential election redo against 26 rivals, according to preliminary results announced late Monday that gave Jovenel Moise a whopping 55.6 percent of the votes.

Moise was the leading vote-getter in first-round presidential balloting last year and appeared headed for a runoff. But that second round of balloting was repeatedly derailed amid fraud allegations and the official results were annulled after a Haitian commission called for the election to start over from scratch.

This time no runoff will apparently be needed because Moise, an agricultural entrepreneur and candidate of former President Michel Martelly's Tet Kale party, got over 50 percent in the Nov. 20 balloting and also led his nearest competitor by well over 25 percentage points. Either result was enough to win under Haiti's election rules.

The final count will be turned over to Haiti's electoral tribunal, where political parties can dispute the results before winners are certified Dec. 29. The recent balloting also completed Parliament as voters picked a third of the Senate and the 25 remaining members of the Chamber of Deputies.

Shortly after the preliminary results were finally issued by Provisional Electoral Council leaders after hours of delay Monday, Moise was surrounded by jubilant, cheering supporters at a Petionville hotel. With his wife, Martine, at his side, he thanked Haiti's citizens and all his political competitors in the deeply polarized country.

"It's together we will change Haiti," said Moise, who was tapped by Martelly to be his successor.

The election redo was needed to restore constitutional order in Haiti, which has been led by a provisional government for nearly a year because Martelly's mandate expired before elections could be completed.

Second-place candidate Jude Celestin of the Lapeh political party had 19.5 percent in the preliminary count. He led an opposition alliance and boycotted campaigning for a runoff after coming in second to Moise in last year's scrapped results.

Though his political enemies tried to discredit him as a puppet of Martelly, Moise campaigned vigorously and his support appeared to span the political spectrum among the sliver of Haitians who cast votes. Turnout was roughly 21 percent during the Nov. 20 vote.

Before the preliminary results were announced, Justice Minister Camille Edouard Junior said authorities were on "high alert" to ensure security in Haiti, where riots have sometimes greeted the announcement of election tallies.

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