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Americas

Haiti run-off vote set for January amid new protests

media Haitians stand near a barricade made of debris during a protest in Port-au-Prince Reuters: Eduardo Munoz

Haiti’s presidential run-off has been set for 16 January after an inconclusive first round of elections. The vote will take place between a 70-year-old academic vying to be the nation's first female leader and a government technocrat 22 years her junior. The news was met by fresh protests by disappointed supporters of other candidates in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Gripped by cholera and struggling to recover from last January's devastating earthquake, Haiti faces a choice between ruling party candidate Jude Célestin, or former first lady Mirlande Manigat.

Angry protests Wednesday greeted the announcement that Célestin, President René Preval's handpicked protege, had made it through to the presidential run-off by fewer than 7,000 votes.

Tasked with rebuilding efforts after the quake, Célestin has struggled to shake off the image of being too close to the unpopular president.

Opinion polls suggest that Célestin, who studied engineering in Switzerland, is not popular on the street.

Meanwhile Manigat, a founding member of the opposition Rally of Progressive National Democrats, has made education reform a key plank of her campaign, promising to give Haiti's youth universal access to public schooling.

She studied at the Sorbonne and the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Sciences Po.

"Haitians do not want continuity. They want change, to see a rupture from the past," she told the news agency AFP.

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