His supporters affectionately call him "Tet Kale" – bald head – in the Haitian national language Kreol. Haiti’s future president, Michel Martelly, won the March runoff election by a landslide. Martelly has no political experience. As "Sweet Micky" he became popular throughout the country in Haiti. There are doubts about his democratic convictions.
That’s exactly what won him sympathy from the nearly 4.7 million eligible voters who are disappointed with Haiti’s slow pace of rebuilding after the devastating January 2010 earthquake. Although Martelly has since exchanged his provocative stage costumes for a suit and tie. Nevertheless, he touted himself as an untried newcomer. "I have clean hands. I have never been in politics," the singer emphasized during the election campaign. He also benefited from the support of Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean. The originally wanted to run himself, but was not admitted because he does not live in Haiti.
Martelly promises state education for all. So far, 90 percent of Haitian children and young people are dependent on private schools. He also wants to boost the economy by investing in tourism. No one knows how he will achieve this. Haiti is far from an economic upswing. 80 percent of the 9.6 million inhabitants live below the poverty line.
Most urgent task for new president is to find solution to 680.000 homeless people still living in tents and shelters after the earthquake. Many of them are at risk of displacement, notes a report published Monday by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Because most of the homeless camps sprang up spontaneously on private properties after the disaster. The largest of these is a camp with about 40.000 people on the golf course in the capital’s suburb of Petionville.
Doubts about democratic credentials
The new government will manage international aid funds on its own in the future, replacing the previous organization run jointly by the government and donors. This is the roadmap agreed a year ago at a New York aid conference. But whether the eleven billion U.S. dollars promised at the time for reconstruction will actually flow depends on the confidence of the donors in the Martelly government.
Because doubts about Martelly’s democratic credentials already emerged during the election campaign. He answered unpleasant questions about his debts in the U.S. with threats to the press. "I’ll see you on the streets later," Martelly replied to a respected Haitian journalist.
Such attempts at intimidation are fatally reminiscent of the practices of previous Haitian rulers, most notably dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, who fled into exile in 1986. The former poor priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who fled into exile in 2004 after riots, also ruled in an authoritarian manner. Both made surprise returns to Haiti in recent weeks. And Martelly offered both of them cooperation while still on the campaign trail.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called for more rule of law from the future government. At the same time, he pointed to possible confrontations with parliament, which was also largely newly elected. According to preliminary election results, the previous ruling party will dominate in both chambers of parliament. Martelly’s own party has just 3 of the more than 130 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate – a challenge even for seasoned politicians.