PORT-AU-PRINCE, (Reuters) – Haitian businessman Jovenel Moise is expected to be declared the official winner of November presidential elections in the impoverished Caribbean nation yesterday after an electoral tribunal ruled out allegations of massive fraud at the polls. Moise, who ran for former President Michel Martelly’s Bald Heads Party (PHTK), won with 55.67 percent of votes cast in the Nov. 20 election, while his closest rival Jude Celestin received just over 19 percent, preliminary results showed in November.
But the electoral tribunal said it would review the results, after opposition candidates demanded a recount, alleging fraud.
Supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas Party claimed victory for their candidate, Maryse Narcisse, while backers of leftist candidate Moise Jean-Charles have also protested following the November announcement.
“There was no massive fraud in the election. There were irregularities which did not affect the electoral process,” the tribunal said. Authorities are expected to declare Moise the official winner later on Tuesday.
Heavy gunfire was heard in parts of the capital on Monday. Opponents of Moise have repeatedly said they would never accept the victory of the candidate of Martelly’s PHTK party.
Haiti is still recovering after Category-4 Hurricane Matthew tore through the Caribbean nation, killing up to 1,000 people and leaving 1.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance.
Moise, 48, won an October 2015 first-round election that was later scrapped over fraud allegations. He is expected to take office by the constitutional deadline of Feb. 7, 2017.
A successful banana exporter, Moise would take the reins from interim president Jocelerme Privert, who took power after Martelly left without an elected successor in February, 2016.
As president, Moise would face the daunting task of reviving Haiti’s economy and rebuilding a country that was still recovering from a 2010 earthquake when the hurricane hit.