Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

Haiti: Michel Martelly wins presidential election, but who will be prime minister?

April 5, 2011 |  5:38 pm

GetprevMichel “Sweet Micky” Martelly appears to be the winner in Haiti’s presidential election.

The popular Kompa singer turned political candidate captured nearly twice as many votes as his opponent, former first lady and academic Mirlande Manigat, according to Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council. The results of the March 20 runoff vote were made public this week.

Martelly, who was endorsed by another musician, hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean, thanked supporters via his Twitter account.

Martelly gained support among Haiti's poor by casting himself as an outsider capable of rebuilding a country devastated by a 2010 earthquake and a cholera outbreak.

Observers say Haitians have high expectations for Martelly, who promised to focus on reconstruction, education and agrarian reforms during the campaign.

While his own win was confirmed, Martelly must still wait to learn who will be the country's next prime minister. Haitians also cast ballots in parliamentary elections. Outgoing President Rene Preval’s party was expected to win control of parliament; however, no clear majority has emerged and negotiations could take time.

A new parliament could play an important role in Martelly's government. If a new parliament is sworn in and able to pass constitutional reforms before Martelly takes office, then those amendments would be implemented during Martelly's term. Haitian law forbids a president from implementing amendments passed during his tenure in office, according to experts. Some of the proposed amendments include granting dual citizenship to members of Haiti’s diaspora, many of whom live in the U.S. and are considered key to rebuilding the country. Others changes include revamping the length of terms for officeholders and allowing a president to serve two consecutive terms in office. Such fixes would help eliminate the constant election cycle.

Martelly has already said he hopes Haiti’s past presidents will attend his inauguration May 15.

Such an invitation could bring two of the country’s most polemic figures together. In January, Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti 25 years after he was overthrown. Known as "Baby Doc," he now faces human rights and corruption charges.

And just days before the election, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned from South Africa and was greeted by crowds. He remains a popular figure among the poor but is considered a destabilizing force by some analysts.


Can an election heal Haiti?

--Sandra Hernandez

Photo: Haitian President-elect Michel Martelly in Port au Prince. Credit: Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Comments ()