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Former Pop Star Michel Martelly Inaugurated as Haiti's President

Posted onMay 14th, 2011 - 6:36 PM
Martelly has vowed to transform Haiti into a new Caribbean destination for investment and tourism

Former pop star Michel Martelly has been sworn in as the new president of Haiti, taking over the impoverished Caribbean nation that is struggling to recover from last year's devastating earthquake.

Martelly took the oath of office Saturday on the grounds of the collapsed presidential palace in the capital, Port-Au-Prince. A power outage plunged the ceremony into darkness, but it was the first democratic transfer of power from one party to another in the country's turbulent history.

The 50-year-old performer known to Haitians as "Sweet Micky" was swept to power in the March presidential election and takes over from outgoing President Rene Preval. Preval took off the blue and red presidential sash and put it on Martelly.

Thousands of people displaced by last year's January earthquake joined dignitaries, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who led the United States delegation, in witnessing Martelly's swearing in. Edmond Mulet, head of the United Nations mission in Haiti, and presidents of other Caribbean states were there, as was Desi Bouterse, the president of Suriname, who is on trial for the 1982 executions of 15 political opponents.

Two former Haitian leaders, ousted ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and one-time dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, both live in the island nation, but did not attend the ceremony.

Martelly faces the task of rebuilding Haiti's infrastructure. He must work with a legislature controlled by the opposition party of Mr. Preval.

International donors have withheld billions of dollars in aid to Haiti until the new government can address the country's deep poverty, earthquake-shattered infrastructure and a cholera outbreak.

Haiti has struggled to rebuild following the earthquake that left more than 200,000 people dead and 1 million others homeless.

Hundreds of thousands of people still live in tent camps.


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