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UN Appeals for Patience as Haitians Await Election Results

Man wearing A t-shirt with U.S. President Barack Obama's face is seen inside of a polling center during presidential elections in Port-au-Prince, March 20, 2011

The United Nations is urging the Haitian people to show patience and restraint as they await the results of Sunday's presidential runoff election, in which former first lady Mirlande Manigat faced off against popular singer Michel Martelly.

The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti issued a statement Monday saying the future of the Caribbean nation is at stake. Officials said despite some logistical and administrative problems and isolated acts of violence, the second round concluded in considerably better condition than the initial round last November.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also has reaffirmed the U.N.'s commitment to helping Haiti build a prosperous future. Additionally, the European Union praised the way in which the election was conducted.

Opinion polls indicated Martelly was favored to win. The official results are expected at the end of the month.

Martelly was initially excluded from the runoff until international observers reviewed the first round results and recommended he advance to the second round instead of the ruling party candidate, Jude Celestin. The observers cited fraud and irregularities in the first round of balloting.

Sunday's election took place two days after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti from South Africa, where he had been living in exile. Mr. Aristide, who was driven from office by armed rebels in 2004, returned to the Caribbean nation despite U.S. concerns that his presence could destabilize the vote.

Mr. Aristide expressed a desire to go back to Haiti after former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier made a surprise return in January.

The person who wins the election will succeed outgoing President Rene Preval.

Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's poorest country and has been struggling to rebuild following a devastating earthquake in January of last year. The country also has been dealing with a cholera epidemic that broke out in October, leaving thousands dead.

Mr. Ban recently said there are signs the epidemic is finally coming under control.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.