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Haiti to Release Election Results Wednesday, 2nd Round Set for March

People walk next to a banner of presidential candidate Jude Celestin in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 26, 2011

Haiti's election commission says it will announce definitive results from the first round of a disputed November vote on Wednesday and has scheduled a second round for March 20.

The commission said Friday campaigning for the second round will run from February 17 until March 18.

The election news comes ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Haiti on Sunday, where she will meet with officials about the ongoing election crisis.

Haiti's ruling party says it asked its candidate in the election, Jude Celestin to withdraw from the second round election. The U.S. had been pressuring Haiti to accept the Organization of American States recommendation to pull Celestin out of the contest.

But Celestin has not confirmed his withdrawal.

According to official results, Celestin placed second behind former first lady, Mirlande Manigat, in the polling. Popular singer Michel Martelly was third. Martelly has threatened to bring protesters out into the streets if his name is not on the ballot in a runoff.

The U.S. has revoked the visas of about a dozen Haitian officials held responsible for abuses related to the November election.

Political tensions in Haiti have also been heightened by the surprise return earlier this month of ousted dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier after 25 years in exile. Haitian officials have charged him with corruption and embezzlement of public funds. Several Haitians have filed lawsuits accusing Duvalier of human rights violations during his 15-year rule that ended in 1986.

Haiti is struggling to recover from last year's deadly earthquake that left more than 200,000 people dead and 1 million others homeless. The country also is also battling a deadly cholera outbreak.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.