May 14, 2011 Haiti

Update May 14, 2011

It’s official! We have a new President in Haiti! Today at 7:00 a.m., Michel Martelly took the official oath of office.  The people are ecstatic!

Former pop star, Martelly, with no previous government experience, is now taking the reigns of this impoverished Caribbean nation, still recovering from last year’s devastating earthquake.

He took office this morning on the grounds of the collapsed presidential palace in Port-au-Prince. A power outage put the ceremony into darkness, but it was the first democratic transfer of power from one party to another in the country’s history!

The 50-year old performer, known to Haitians as “Sweet Micky” won the election in March by a landslide.  Before receiving the presidential sash, the President-elect Michel Joseph Martelly, made solemn the oath:

“I swear before God and the Nation, to faithfully observe the Constitution and laws of the Republic, to respect and enforce the rights of the Haitian people, to work to the greatness of the Fatherland, to maintain the National Independence and territorial integrity.”

Then, the outgoing President René Garcia Préval handed the presidential sash to President-elect Joseph Michel Martelly, who now is the 56th President of Haiti.

Thousands of people displaced by last year’s earthquake joined local and foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who led the U.S. delegation, to witness Martelly’s swearing in.  Ousted ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and one-time dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, who recently returned to Haiti, were invited, but did not attend the ceremony.

Please pray for our new President. He faces the huge task of rebuilding Haiti’s infrastructure.  He must work with a legislature controlled by the opposition party of. Preval.

International donors have withheld more than $10 billion in aid to Haiti until the new government can address the country’s deep poverty, earthquake-shattered infrastructure and a cholera outbreak.

Our new President asked Haitians today to join him in rebuilding their poor, earthquake-ravaged nation and said he would work to provide jobs, health and education.

“Haiti was sleeping and today Haiti is waking up … that’s the mandate you gave me and, trust me, things will change,” he said in his first speech after taking the presidential oath of office.

As they pressed against the railings of the crumbled white-domed presidential palace that was badly damaged in last year’s devastating earthquake, the crowd roared their approval of his words in Creole!

“Hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, we’re going to change Haiti, rebuild this country to make it stronger,” he said. His speech was heralded by a ceremonial blowing of conch shells (the crude trumpets used by the black slaves who rose up in a revolt that led to Haiti’s independence from France in 1804).

Martelly also sought to reassure foreign donors who have pledged billions of dollars for Haiti’s reconstruction to trust him to see it used properly. He promised security and guarantees for investments and private property owners.

In his inaugural speech, Martelly repeated his promises to transform Haiti from a development ‘basket case’ into a new Caribbean destination for investment and tourism that will provide jobs and better lives for its people.

“We need to build a Haiti where health is not a luxury, a Haiti that is not made of slums,” he said, adding he would also work to provide free education to every Haitian child.

Martelly, who proposes restoring Haiti’s disbanded army to eventually replace the more than 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers in his country, said he would not tolerate unrest or violence.

He promised tight security.  It will be safe to go to work, day or night.  He told the people to respect themselves and they will be respected.  “We can take care of ourselves.  We are an artistic people.  We don’t need to beg! We will work! We must change our reputation.  We are not beggars; we are not stealers. No corruption!  No stealing!”

“No more kidnapping, no more violence against women, no more injustice,” he said, ordering the police and judicial system to take a tough line against offenders.

In this small but volatile Caribbean nation, called Haiti, with a history of revolts and dictatorships, the inauguration marked the first time a democratically-elected Haitian president handed over power to a freely elected leader from the opposition.

“Everything I promised, I will do!  God will help me to rebuild Haiti.” This statement from their President encourages the people of Haiti to trust a leader who can mobilize them!   When they see the beginning of these promises coming true, they will rise up!

Today, a newly-elected-by-the-people President is saying the same things God has been saying to our church for many years…  Haiti will rise!

Thanks for praying for us as we continue to guide our people toward a new Haiti.  We know it won’t be an easy task for those in leadership, but as we pray, we know God will turn this upside-down little nation into the beautiful treasure it was meant to be!


P.S.  I thought you might like the Official Schedule of Today’s Events.  Here it is…

7:00 a.m.: Opening of the extraordinary sessions of the Constitutional oath of President-elect Joseph Michel Martelly

8:00 a.m.: Formal sitting in National Assembly during which the president-elect will make the constitutional oath.

9:30 a.m.: The President of the Republic, accompanied by the first lady will lay a wreath at the monument of the MUPANAH.

11:00a.m: Solemn Mass followed by “Te Deum” on the lawn of the National Palace.

11:30a.m: Address to the Nation of the President of the Republic on the lawn of the National Palace.

12:00 p.m.: Review of Units of the National Police of Haiti by the Head of State accompanied by the Director General of the HNP.

2:00 p.m.: Lunch offered by LLEE the president of the Republic and the First Lady in honor of foreign delegations at the Karibe Hotel.

4:30 p.m.:   Private audience granted to heads of delegations who requested it.

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