Wednesday, April 6, 2011


(Montreal Gazette) - By Kevin Dougherty

Quebec MNA sees Martelly's rise as positive sign for nation's future

Benoit Charette, Parti Québécois MNA for Deux-Montagnes riding and an observer for both rounds of the Haitian presidential elections, sees signs of hope in the election of Haitian singer Michel Martelly, known as Sweet Micky, with nearly 68 per cent of the vote.

"It is a beautiful turn of events," Charette said in an interview Tuesday.

He noted there were no riots when the results of the March 20 second round were announced, a contrast with rioting after the results of the first round Nov. 28, which ranked Martelly in third place and off the run-off ballot. A United Nations-supervised recount placed Martelly second, after Mirlande Manigat.

"He was excluded at the end of the first round, when all indications were ... that his exclusion was not at all justified," Charette said. "The second round seems to be calming things down. There were manifestations of joy."

Also, Martelly's overwhelming win means the judicial review process following the election - "he could lose or gain a few percentage points" - won't affect the outcome and Martelly will be sworn in as Haiti's president next month.

"He was the unknown candidate," Charette said, adding Manigat, whose husband Leslie Manigat was president for six months in 1988 before he was overthrown in a military coup, "was known."

"We knew what her leadership would be like."

Martelly has been meeting with the ambassadors of donor countries, such as Canada, France and the United States, as well as with Edmond Mulet, representative of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Charette said.

"And everyone told me that with Martelly they felt their arguments were heard," he said.

"He is very, very open to dialogue.

"I don't sense any particular worries in the international community."

Also, Charette said, Martelly's mother is the sister of Jean-Max Bellerive, the present prime minister.

"Prime Minister Bellerive is very well regarded by the international community and one of the scenarios being discussed is that Bellerive would remain prime minister.

"The international community would be frankly reassured and we would have a very pragmatic person in Bellerive and a more emotional, more colourful man as president," he said.

"It could be a special marriage. I am confident for the future. But the expectations are many."

Contrasting Martelly with former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was also a populist, Charette said he expects Martelly's populism will be more tempered.

"The presidency of Aristide was a class struggle, the poor against the rich. It was in the official line.

"Martelly says there are classes in Haiti but the people with the means should be creating jobs. The notion of class struggle is completely absent from his policies," Charette said.

"If these classes that historically have been very separate can work together, it will create something interesting."

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