Haiti postpones presidential runoff vote: officials

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Port-Au-Prince, Dec 22: Haiti has pushed back next week's presidential runoff vote, election officials have said, without immediately announcing a new date. The runoff had been scheduled for December 27, after an October 25 first-round vote marred by allegations of massive voter fraud.

The runoff was to pit Jovenel Moise -- backed by outgoing president Michel Martelly and the ruling party -- against Jude Celestin, the second-place vote-getter from more than 50 contenders in the first round of balloting.

Haiti

The October presidential election was the latest attempt in the Americas' poorest country to shed chronic political instability and work toward development. But reporting of the election results -- and now, the staging of the runoff vote -- has been plagued with delays and beset by protests alleging official corruption.

Moise won 32.8 per cent of the first-round balloting and Celestin took 25.3 per cent, the federal election commission said. Moise is a businessman and political novice who until now worked in agriculture, mainly growing bananas.

His nickname during the campaign was "the banana man." Celestin, making his second bid for the Haitian presidency, was disqualified from the second round in the 2010 election vote following a recount by the Organization of American States. This time, he had been considered the front-runner.

The first round of voting was relatively peaceful, in contrast to violence during August legislative elections that left two people dead. Haiti is still struggling to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and crippled the nation's infrastructure. 

AFP

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