Michel Martelly, otherwise known as kompa star “Sweet Micky,” was declared the winner of the Haiti’s presidential election according to preliminary results released by the Provisional Electoral Council yesterday. Martelly, 50, received 68 percent of the vote in the March 20 runoff, besting constitutional law professor and former first lady Mirlande Manigat.
While he is best known for his carnival music, on-stage antics and profanity, Martelly reinvented himself during the campaign as a clean-cut, antiestablishment politician focusing on reforming education and agriculture and streamlining delivery of $18 billion in promised humanitarian aid. His image as political outsider makes him popular among Haiti’s poor, but Martelly will have to court the Haitian elite to guarantee political support of his policies.
The likely next president is already ruffling some feathers among the upper crust with his plan to reinstate the Haitian Armed Forces that was disbanded by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995. Martelly will face the challenge of sharing power with a prime minister chosen by Haiti’s parliament, where incumbent president René Préval’s INITE party holds significant sway.
Though preliminary results show that Martelly won by a landslide, Manigat will have a chance to appeal the preliminary results before the official numbers are announced on April 16. If the results stand, Martelly will be sworn in as Haiti’s 44th president of Haiti in May and face the daunting task of rebuilding a weakened public sector in a country currently dominated by nongovernmental organizations.