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Haiti hails new president

HERB BOYD Special to the AmNews | 5/25/2011, 3:43 p.m.

"We will continue to stand alongside Haiti as it rebuilds its communities and strengthens the rule of law," Harper added.

After accepting the transition of power from former President Rene Preval, Martelly, with his wife and four children looking on, again anticipated the concerns of the international community, particularly from the standpoint of investments and security. "Haitians, this country is ours. Let us gather to remake our country," he said to great applause. "But, for there is work in Haiti, there must be security in the country, security for people, for our goods, for production, money for investment, for investors, so that farmers can produce... I'm not going to negotiate if a person comes to clutter [and] create instability so that the country cannot function. I am sorry, the justice will act against these people. Justice will act as it should."

Former President Bill Clinton was the most recognizable U.S. citizen at the inauguration. Other than Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Haiti Support Project and the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, who led a delegation of his colleagues and press to the affair, there were no notable Black Americans, and certainly no African-American elected officials.

"If they were here, I didn't see them," said Daniels. Moreover, when asked about his opinion of the new president, he said, "I think we have to give him a chance to govern...that's only fair. If he comes up short on his promises, then I'm sure the people will let him know."

Patrick Elie, who served as chief of security during the Aristide administration, said he wasn't sure about the new president, feeling he was a bit unpredictable. "He tends to surround himself with the wrong kind of people," Elie said. "But let's see what happens." Former President Jean Bertrand Aristide was not present at the events, determined to keep a low profile since his return from exile.

Martelly said that the middle class is the economic engine of the country: "Haiti, where a change in our mindset will allow us to enter in the modern world...a Haiti where the slum aren't the cities, where the Haitian people will find water, electricity, services so that this country can be called a country. A Haiti where we will give people the means of birth control, where health is not a luxury," he charged in that musical voice so often heard in concert and on recordings.

Yes, Martelly, popularly known as "Sweet Micky," ended his speech in a tuneful way befitting his acclaim as an entertainer. Many publications are sure to mention the power failure in the makeshift parliament building during the swearing-in ceremony. However, they should also note the festival of lights, the fireworks that streaked the late evening skies over the capital, marking the entry of the new president and a new era of hope and future prosperity.