Port-au-Prince (AFP) – Haiti’s President Michel Martelly urged his fellow citizens to come together to rebuild the poverty-stricken country devastated by an earthquake nearly four years ago.
“Haiti is very sick. We need to rebuild this country of ours,” Martelly said in a televised address marking Independence Day.
“But this work is not that of a single president or group. It is the job of all of us, together we will get there.”
An estimated 250,000 people were killed in the January 12, 2010, quake and the rebuilding process has been slow.
As the fourth anniversary of the disaster approaches, more than 170,000 Haitians are still living in makeshift housing, in very precarious conditions and sometimes facing eviction.
“Getting Haiti back on its feet takes the effort and help of all its children. I call on you to join forces and unite to work to meet the challenges that await us in 2014,” Martelly said.
As the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti has recently seen an increase in anti-government protests, giving rise to clashes.
Apart from the resignation of Martelly, who has been in office since 2011, demonstrators are also calling for better living conditions.
“It is in peace and stability that we will move Haiti forward,” Martelly said. “This is what it will take to achieve victories in the fight against ignorance, job creation and establish schooling and health for all.”
Martelly had invited eight of his predecessors to attend festivities marking the 210th anniversary of Haiti’s independence from France.
But only two were spotted in the official seating area, including former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who is facing charges of corruption and human rights abuses.