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UN Welcomes Calm Following Release of Early Election Results in Haiti

OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza (file photo)

OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza (file photo)

The United Nations peacekeeping operation in Haiti has welcomed the release of the country's preliminary results from Haiti's recent presidential and legislative elections, while urging calm as citizens await final results.

The U.N. mission, known as MINUSTAH, made the comment Tuesday, one day after the early results from the runoff vote showed that singer Michel Martelly defeated former first lady Mirlande Manigat for the presidency. The vote took place March 20.

The mission said it salutes the fact that Haitian political actors welcomed the announcement with maturity, demonstrating their wish to respect the voice of the people and the democratic process.

The statement also called on the Haitian people to continue to exercise patience and calm ahead of the final results, due to be released later this month. MINUSTAH said candidates who wish to dispute the outcome should pursue their claims in line with the provisions of Haiti's electoral laws.

The remarks come ahead of a U.N. Security Council open debate Wednesday on the situation in Haiti. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief the council, as will former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who serves as the U.N. special envoy for Haiti. Outgoing Haitian President Rene Preval is scheduled to attend as well.

Earlier Tuesday, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, congratulated the people of Haiti for exercising their civic responsibility in a calm atmosphere, and he saluted their patience as the results were tabulated.

The United States said Haiti's vote was "an important milestone." The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is urging Haitians to continue to express themselves peacefully in the hope that all political actors can resolve any outstanding questions about the electoral results.

Martelly has never held political office, and analysts say he has a tough job ahead. Much of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, is still in ruins from a January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians still live in tent camps.

A cholera epidemic has killed thousands of people, and the country is rife with poverty and unemployment.

Manigat won the first round of the presidential election in November. Ruling party candidate Jude Celestin initially was declared the second-place finisher and entered in the runoff, but that ruling triggered violent protests by Martelly's supporters. After reviewing the election, the OAS found fraud had been committed and recommended that Martelly be entered in the second-round vote instead of Celestin.