NEW PRESIDENT TAKES POWER IN HAITI
(Miami Herald) - By Jacqueline Charles
PORT-AU-PRINCE - A smiling Michel Martelly, wearing the red and blue
presidential sash, walked out of a white parliament building Saturday
holding his wife's right hand.
"Great, great, great," said Sophia Martelly, dressed in a royal blue
Moments earlier, her husband, musician-turned-politician Martelly was sworn
in as this quake-ravaged nation?s 56th president. He took the oath in
darkness. As he was sitting down next to former President Rene Preval, the
lights went out.
Bernardito Cleopas Auza, the Roman Catholic Church's Apostolic Nuncio,
called Saturday a good day for Haiti.
"Personally, I'm very happy for Haiti, and I hope we can have some
reconciliation going forward," he said.
"The new president has generated energy, optimism. There is really a lot of
hope for this new mandate that we can see progress and finally projects of
reconstruction taking place," Auza said.
Gracia Delva, another well-known Haitian musician who was recently elected
to parliament, agreed.
"Martelly's campaign was rich with promises, and we hope he can realize
them all," he told The Miami Herald.
Dignitaries at the inauguration included former President Bill Clinton,
Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding and delegations from France, Brazil and
Taiwan. The head of the U.N. Peacekeeping operations also attended.
"To see a democratic transition from one former president to another
president is a great achievement for Haiti," said Alain Le Roy,
Under-Secretary-General of the UN Peacekeeping Operations.
He said "it was a great moment" for the United Nations as well.
Saturday's inauguration, which came after months of political uncertainty,
saw the historic end to the term of one democratically elected president and
the beginning of another.
During the Nov. 28 first round of elections, a dozen candidates, including
Martelly, stopped the vote mid-day, demanding cancellation amid allegations
of "massive fraud."
The United Nations came under fire by those demanding cancellation. It was
responsible for technical and logistical support.
It later took the lead in the international community to salvage the
elections by demanding that Preval remove his candidate, former state
construction chief Jude Celestin, from the race.
The two-month electoral crisis finally ended with a second round between
Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat. Martelly won with 67
percent of the vote.
But with most of the 4.3 million voters staying home, and his victory
representing just 16 percent of the electorate, Martelly has difficult road
As he arrived on the grounds of the broken presidential palace on Saturday,
thousands outside the wrought iron green fence chanted. Earlier, a small
band of protesters took to the streets wearing green and white T-shirts,
saying in Creole, "We fired them." referring to Preval's government.