New President Takes Office In Haiti
By Dialogo May 17, 2011
The new president of Haiti, the popular and charismatic pop singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, took office with a promise to rebuild the country’s capital, where the traces of the earthquake that devastated it last January remain visible.
Martelly, fifty years old, was elected in the second round of the presidential election on 20 March, supported by a majority of voters who believed in his promises, including the promise to raise the standard of living in the rural areas of the hemisphere’s most impoverished nation.
During the inauguration ceremony, amid an unexpected power outage, the new president received the presidential sash from the hands of the president of the National Assembly, Rudolphe Joazile, to whom it was surrendered by the outgoing president, René Préval.
The event took place at the National Palace, facing a neighborhood that remains filled with tents in which thousands of those affected by the earthquake, which killed around 230,000 people, are still living.
Several prominent figures attended the ceremony, including former U.S. president Bill Clinton, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, and delegations from France, Brazil, and Taiwan. Alain Le Roy, the UN under-secretary-general in charge of the peacekeeping forces that have taken responsibility for maintaining order in that nation since 2004, was also present.
Following his swearing-in, at which he was accompanied by his wife, Sophia Saint Remy, and their four children, Martelly went to the National Pantheon Museum to lay a wreath in honor of the heroes of the Haitian nation.
Among the challenges facing the new president is also that of fulfilling another of his campaign promises, the promise to organize a new army, after the one the nation previously had was demobilized following the uprising that deposed then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.
Martelly won the Haitian elections with 67.57 percent of the vote in a race against former first lady Mirlande Manigat.