PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A businessman from northern Haiti who has never held political office was certified as the official winner of the November presidential election Tuesday following a ruling by an electoral tribunal that found no evidence of large-scale voter fraud.
The Provisional Electoral Council published final results showing that Jovenel Moise easily won a first-round victory with more than 55 percent of the votes, the same as the preliminary results that were announced in late November. His nearest challenger, Jude Celestin, had nearly 20 percent.
Release of the results came hours after a special electoral tribunal dismissed allegations of massive fraud, announcing that it had found some irregularities in the Nov. 20 election but not enough to affect the outcome based on an analysis of 12 percent of the ballots.
Moise, whose business ventures include a large banana farm in the north of the country, pledged on Twitter that the five-year mandate that has been entrusted to him by the Haitian people will be a productive one.
A 48-year-old chosen by former President Michel Martelly to run as the candidate of his Tet Kale party, Moise defeated 26 rivals in the first round and avoided a runoff.
Several rivals challenged the results, but the electoral judges said they found "there was no massive fraud," according to the electoral council.
Supporters of Maryse Narcisse, one of the leading presidential candidates representing the Fanmi Lavalas party, burned tires and marched in protest of the electoral tribunal decision.
But within hours there were many more supporters of Moise celebrating in the streets downtown as word of his victory spread. There were no reports of significant violence.
Authorities annulled an initial October 2015 election that Moise also won after a special commission found evidence of apparent fraud. The country has been led by an interim president since February 2016.
Moise is to be sworn in on Feb. 7.