Haiti: new president inaugurated in the dark

Popular Haitian singer Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) was sworn in as his country’s 56th president on the morning of May 14 in a ceremony attended by outgoing president René Préval, members of Parliament and a group of foreign dignitaries, including Dominican Leonel Fernández, Honduran president Porfirio Lobo, Surinamese president Desiré Bouterse and former US president Bill Clinton. The event was held in a temporary structure set up in downtown Port-au-Prince for the Parliament after a January 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the capital. The actual administration of the oath of office took place without electric lights or a working sound system because of a brief power outage in the building. (AlterPresse, Haiti, May 14; Radio Kiskeya, Haiti, May 14; Radio Métropole, Haiti, May 14)

Martelly’s term officially runs until Feb. 7, 2016; he was elected in a runoff vote on March 20, more than a month after outgoing president Préval’s term officially expired.

In a joint session on May 9, the two chambers of Parliament rushed through a group of amendments to the 1987 Constitution. The revised document will allow dual citizenship, a provision supported by many people in Haiti’s large diaspora, and sets up a Constitutional Council to rule on constitutional issues. The Constitution continues to provide for the existence of an army, although the country has had no military force since then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded the Armed Forces of Haiti (FadH) in 1995. An attempt to allow two consecutive presidential terms was defeated; presidents are still limited to two non-consecutive five-year terms. (Radio Kiskeya, May 13)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 15.

See our last post on Haiti.

“Sweet Micky”