Martelly’s Uphill Battle
They came with hopes, demands, and grievances. And, as new Haitian president Michel Martelly made his way into the northern city of Cap-Haitian on Sunday July 24th, some came with stones and broken bottles.
In the wake of the attack, investigations are underway and a reported 30 individuals have been arrested. For Martelly, who later commented on the scare, the sound of gun shots and the near miss of glass bottles hurtling overhead may serve as a stark reminder of the people’s discontent and clamor for relief long deferred.
Just two months into his term, this president has an uphill battle to unify leadership; rally the confidence of Haitians, a million of them displaced and living under tarps; and to turn election talking points into much needed policy changes for the reform of Haiti’s crippled infrastructure.
We take a look at key issues addressed by the president thus far.
President Martelly’s first choice of Prime Minister, businessman Daniel Rouzier did little to smooth out dicey political terrain. The Haitian Parliament balked at the nomination of Rouzier as Martelly did not seek their counsel and the nominee did not reflect the will of the people. Tension mounted as the Parliament (rife with Inite party members who backed rival Jude Celestin in the election) rejected Martelly’s bid for an extension in office for 10 senators and a constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to seek reelection at the end of his five-year term.
The president seemed to fare better with his second PM nomination, Bernard Gousse, a lawyer. Gousse’s dubious track record in law enforcement alienated some in parliament but 58 lawmakers declared support of Martelly’s pick. Ultimately, parliament rejected Gousse, prompting the UN to encourage Haitian politicians to come to a consensus.
Taking early steps to make good on his campaign promise of free education, President Martelly launched the National Fund for Education (FNE) on Thursday May 26, 2011. The fund will draw from tariffs on international calls (5 cents per minute) effective June 15 and on the international transfer of funds ($1.50 per transaction) assessed by the Bank of the Republic of Haiti in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund as of June 1, 2011.
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