Haiti pop star Michel Martelly sworn in as president

Michel Martelly has pledged a break with Haiti’s violent past.

Haitian pop star Michel Martelly has been sworn in as president of the poorest country in the Americas.

Mr Martelly, 50, has pledged to speed up earthquake reconstruction, develop the impoverished countryside and build a modern army.

The political novice was elected president in March in a run-off poll after a first round marred by fraud.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians still live in tent cities after the devastating January 2010 earthquake.

Supporters celebrate

Mr Martelly, known to Haitians as Sweet Micky, was inaugurated in a building which is temporarily housing Haiti’s parliament.

Former President Rene Preval took off the presidential sash and put it on Mr Martelly as they shook hands and embraced.

A power cut during the ceremony plunged the guests into darkness.

The watching dignitaries included former US President Bill Clinton, who is co-chair of Haiti Reconstruction Commission, which controls billions of dollars in aid pledged to rebuild earthquake damage.

Mr Martelly did not speak as he left the building for the badly-damaged National Palace, where was to deliver a speech.

Outside the gates of parliament, more than 1,000 of his supporters had gathered to celebrate.

“Today is a party for us, for the masses, because the country is destroyed,” said Esaue Rene, a 28-year-old mechanic.

In addition to the challenge of rebuilding the quake-shattered capital, Port-au-Prince, Haiti faces a cholera epidemic, an economy in ruins and the legacy of a violent past.

But legislating in a parliament controlled by political opponents from Mr Preval’s party could prove difficult.

“His administration will have to show progress fairly quickly in order to provide confidence to the population,” said Mark Schneider, senior vice-president of the International Crisis Group, in Washington DC.


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