Haitians went to the polls Sunday to decide whether to elect a pop star or a former first lady as their new president in a long-overdue runoff and amid continuing efforts to rebuild after last year's earthquake.
The poll, pitting Michel Martelly against Mirlande Manigat, is being held just two days after former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned from seven years in exile in South Africa.
An estimated 4.7 million people registered to vote. Final results are not expected until mid-April.
The preliminary official results of the November's chaotic first round, which was marred by violence and fraud, placed Manigat, 70, first and pitted her against ruling party candidate Jude Celestin in the runoff. Celestin withdrew amid allegations of vote tampering and Martelly, 50, took his place.
European Union Representative Catherine Ashton said Sunday's election was "essential" to the country's future as Haitians continued to deal with last year's massive earthquake, a deadly cholera epidemic and widespread unemployment, The Miami Herald reported.
In recent days, the paper reported, campaigning has been overshadowed with shootings at rallies and vicious personal attacks: posters compare Martelly to former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Fliers by an unknown group have warned Haitians to stay home on Sunday, threatening violence.