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Tough times ahead for new Haitian president, Martelly

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Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

Michel Martelly is set to become Haiti’s new president after his inauguration ceremony on Saturday in front of a number of distinguished guests including outgoing president René Préval, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé and former US President Bill Clinton.

 


Martelly's presidency comes at a difficult time for Haiti which is still struggling to cope with the effects of a devastating earthquake in January 2010 which killed more than 225,000 people and left one in seven of the population homeless.

The sudden return in January of former dictator Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier after 25 years in exile and then in March of Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide has reopened old wounds.

Both men have been invited to the inauguration ceremony in a gesture of reconciliation, but it is not known if they will attend.

The swift rise to power of 50-year-old Martelly, a former carnival singer, has raised expectations of a break with Haiti’s violent past.

First round election results led to deadly riots in December after Martelly was said to have finished third and out of the race.

An outcry led by the United States ushered in a team of international monitors who found massive fraud in favor of the ruling party candidate.

President Rene Preval's handpicked successor Jude Celestin was eliminated from the race in February and Martelly was reinstated to compete in a long-delayed run-off against former first lady Mirlande Manigat.