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Early Haiti election returns indicate close race between Moise and Narcisse

Voters in Haiti are waiting for the results of the re-run presidential election. Early indications show a close race between Jovenel Moise and Maryse Narcisse with a January run-off likely.

Preliminary results of Sunday's presidential elections were expected later on Monday. Media reports suggested Jovenel Moise had taken a lead in early tallies although supporters of Maryse Narcisse said she was headed for victory.

Moise is backed by Haiti's previous president Michel Martelly. Narcisse is the candidate of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party.

The head of Haiti's electoral council, Leopold Berlanger, said he expected to publish final results within a maximum of eight days.

In a statement on Monday, the US called the vote a step towards constitutional rule although there were isolated incidents of violence.

A spokesman for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged all Haitians to come together to fill the political vacuum, to reject violence and intimidation and to use legal means for any possible challenges.

"The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to extend its full support to the Haitian people in the fulfillment of their democratic aspirations," the spokesman said in a statement.

To win outright in the first round, the top candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the vote or hold a lead of at least 25 percentage points. Failing that, a run-off election would be held on January 29.

The elections were first held in October 2015 but they were annulled following accusations of fraud. In that vote Moise finished ahead of Jude Celestin, a former state-construction company boss.

There were further disputes and then, last month Hurricane Matthew struck, disrupting life on the island still more.

jm/bw (AFP, AP)

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