guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 April 2011
Michel Martelly outlines his aims on visit to US as he prepares to lead quake-ravaged country, after winning 67% of vote
Michel Martelly has vowed to speed up Haiti‘s recovery and to re-establish an army after being officially declared the next president of the quake-battered country.
Haiti’s electoral commission said the singer-turned politician won 67.6% of the vote in last month’s run-off election, far ahead of his rival Mirlande Manigat.
The announcement ended a debilitating, drawn-out saga over who would succeed President René Préval. The election’s first round last November had a crowded field and ended in fraud, stalemate and instability.
Martelly, 50, a political novice known by his stage name “Sweet Micky”, told US officials on a three-day visit to Washington he wanted to find homes for displaced people living in tents, make education free for all children and transform Haiti’s anaemic agriculture.
To those challenges he added a cholera epidemic which has killed more than 4,700, a looming hurricane season and a desire to create a small, professional army to secure borders and possibly replace a UN force which Haitians say is unnecessary and expensive. Haiti’s previous army had a record of brutality and supporting coups.
Standing by Martelly’s side, Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, said the president-elect had a chance to lead. “He is committed to results. He wants to deliver for the Haitian people. And we are committed to helping him do so.”
Upon taking office next month he will inherit a ramshackle state beholden to multiple foreign donors. As a political outsider, Haitians hope Martelly can take bold steps to ease poverty and inequality but the new president will be boxed in by foreign governments and NGOs, domestic elites and the senate, where most seats are held by Préval supporters.
A letter signed by 53 members of the US congress said many camps for those displaced in last year’s earthquake lacked decent water, sanitation, and shelter. Shelter installations were “progressively deteriorating”, it said.