By Garry Pierre-Pierre
After a series of failed votes, Jovenel Moise was declared Haiti’s president by the country’s Provisional Electoral Council winning 55.67 percent of the vote.
Moise, a banana exporter and political neophyte defeated 26 other candidates to win an outright vote, which was held on Sunday Nov. 20th. If he had garnered less than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff of the top two vote getters would be held in January.
His closest opponent, Jude Celestin, came in a distant second with 19.52 percent of the vote.
In a speech following his election, Moise reached out to the country’s stakeholders to unite.
“The Haitian people made its choice and elected me in the first round. Now, in a spirit of gathering, I invite you, dear compatriots, to borrow with me the road of endogenous development for a Haiti to the height of its historical performances and its legitimate ambitions,” said the 48-year old businessman. “My brothers and sisters, it is together that we will change Haiti, it is together that we must work to allow every Haitian to live better.”
He also reached out to his political adversaries. “Tonight, I have a special thought for each of my competitors, every citizen who was a candidate because they have a project for Haiti.” Said Moise, who continued his campaign while the others appeared to wait out the chaos.
It is unclear if the other parties will continue to challenge the results. For days, the Lavalas party has organized large street protests, claiming that their candidate, Dr. Maryse Narcisse had won the election. The Lavalas party was founded by former president Jean Bertrand Aristide, who campaigned with Dr. Narcisse.
Narcisse came in fourth place with 8.99 percent of the votes behind former Sen. Jean-Charles Moïse with 11.04 percent, according to the results.
On Monday after the results were released there were reports of gunshots and tires burning around Port-au-Prince, the capital. . interim president Jocelerme Privert urged the other parties to revert to the courts not the streets if they want to challenge the results.
“The use of violence can only spoil the fruits of this beautiful day that we all built on the 20th of November, 2016,” he said.
Last week’s vote close a protracted chapter that began last year when elections were annulled and postponed.
The previous presidential vote on Oct. 25, 2015, was marred by widespread allegations of fraud that ultimately forced a revote. The new election had been set for Oct. 9, but was rescheduled six weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti.
Moise is an entrepreneur and political novice is know by the moniker nèg bannan nan (banana man). He is the former president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Northwest Industry (CCINO). He is the presidential pick of former President Martelly, who while not active on the campaign scene, has pushed the Moise’s candidacy from behind the scenes on behalf of his Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK) party.
Moise owns several enterprises such as an auto parts shop, water distribution and a banana plantation.
Initially reluctant to criticize Martelly’s administration, Moïse has said he will keep what’s good and do away with the bad. He refuted the fraud allegations of his competitors and others, and has called for quick elections even after Hurricane Matthew hammered the country’s southern peninsula. His strategy has also focused on the rural vote, telling residents of those communities that he will champion their causes if elected.
Martelly called Moise’s victory a continuation of his term.
“I want to congratulate the people and thank it, because there are a lot of people who embarked and who at first did not believe in him. So, Jovenel hats off, it’s a beautiful thing. I could not have picked a better person than him. We are proud of you.”