Banana exporter Jovenel Moise has claimed over half of the popular vote in Haiti, early results show. If the reports are confirmed, the businessman would become president without a run-off vote.
Haiti's electoral council released the results on Monday, over a week after the presidential vote in the impoverished country.
According to preliminary info, 48-year old Moise won 55.67 percent of the vote. Any candidate who wins more than half of the votes cast is considered the victor.
The banana exporter is backed by the camp of the ex-president Michel Martelly, who stepped down in February to make way for interim government following violent protests.
"It's together we will change Haiti," said Moise, who was tapped by ex-President Michel Martelly to be his successor.
First results put Moise far ahead of the opposition candidate Jude Celestin, who scored 19.52 percent. Moise Jean Charles received 11.04 percent and Maryse Narcisse 8.99 percent of the vote. Narcisse, another opposition candidate, had claimed victory soon after the election.
Turnout was roughly 21 percent in the November 20 vote, with almost 6.2 million people eligible to vote
Waiting for challengers
The final count will be passed to the electoral tribunal, where parties can dispute the results before the winner is certified on December 29.
Moise taking office would signal an end for over a year of political instability in Haiti. The presidential election was originally held in October 2015, with Moise also finishing first. However, the results were annulled after an independent commission found evidence of widespread voter fraud. The accusations of fraud also triggered protests and the political crisis that lead to president Martelly stepping down.
The rerun of the presidential election was then scheduled for October 9, but was delayed due to deadly Hurricane Matthew.
Justice Minister Camille Edouard Junior said the authorities were on "high alert" to ensure security, with riots sometimes greeting the announcement of election results.
The vote also covered parliament, with voters electing one third of the Senate and the 25 remaining members of the Chamber of Deputies.
dj/kl/jbh (Reuters, AFP)