A banned singer whose government bashing lyrics have became part of the political discourse is among Haiti’s newest senators, while an indicted former coup leader is headed into a runoff, according to preliminary election results issued Sunday by the Provisional Electoral Council. Antonio Cheramy, known as “Don Kato,” was elected with 297,260 votes in the Oct. 25 legislative runoff elections to represent the country’s most populous region, the West Department that includes metropolitan Port-au-Prince. The vote total, posted on the council’s website after midnight Sunday, is more than what 52 of the 54 presidential candidates received during balloting held on the same day, according to preliminary presidential results issued Thursday. “The battle I was carrying out reached the population,” said Cheramy, 40. “These results are incontestable and show that the population voted me.”
The parliament announcement came on a day of more protests and arrests of demonstrators who have taken to the streets in the capital and the northern city of Cap-Haitien to protest against the preliminary results of the first round of the Oct. 25 presidential elections. Those results put government-backed candidate Jovenel Moise in a likely runoff with opposition candidate Jude Célestin. Citing the allegations of “massive fraud” by local observer groups, Célestin called the results a “farce” and has asked supporters to remain mobilize despite the government’s attempts to crack down on protests.
“The Haitian people will not stand for this dictatorship project that is going on,” said Célestin, who had several supporters of his LAPEH party arrested during a protest Saturday by police. He and other candidates including Moise have until 4 p.m. Sunday to formally contest their preliminary standing.
The legislative elections were more than three years delayed. The publication of the long-awaited results is seen by the international community as a major step in restoring Haiti’s parliament, which dissolved on Jan. 12 amid a political crisis, leaving Martelly to rule by decree. But for the second time in days, council member Jacceus Joseph refused to sign off on the preliminary results, citing concerns about the lack of transparency over the tabulation amid the fraud allegations. Joseph represents the human rights sector on the nine-member elections council.