Jovenel Moïse was sworn in Tuesday as Haiti’s president for the next 5 years after a bruising 2-year election cycle, inheriting a struggling economy and a deeply divided society.
The 48-year-old entrepreneur took the oath of office in a Parliament chamber packed with Haitian lawmakers and foreign dignitaries.
In his inaugural address during the day of prayer and platitudes, Moïse gave a rough outline of his government’s priorities and pledged to bring “real improvements” to the economically strapped nation, particularly the long-neglected countryside. He urged unity and promised to strengthen institutions, fight corruption and bring more investments and jobs to the country.
“We can change Haiti if we work together,” Moïse said to applause on the grounds of what used to be the national palace, which was one of many buildings obliterated during a devastating earthquake that hit outside the capital in January 2010.
Many Haitians are hopeful that Moïse’s new government can overcome some of the country’s deep problems of poverty and economic malaise in the next 5 years. He has a majority in Parliament and they hope that the businessman-turned-politician will make steady advances.
Robert Fatton, a Haitian-born politics professor at the University of Virginia, described the many challenges facing Moise as “herculean.”
“He has to revive domestic production, increase local and foreign investments, rebuild the moribund agricultural sector, create a sense of national solidarity, and generate a sorely lacking political stability,” he said, adding that all this will have to be achieved amid diminishing international assistance.
The Tuesday inauguration was the concluding step in Haiti’s return to constitutional rule a year after ex-President Michel Martelly left office without an elected successor in place amid waves of opposition protests and a political stalemate suspending elections. A caretaker government was quickly created to fill the void and pave the way for elections.
Moïse won a the November 20 election redo with a dominating 55 percent of the votes cast. That election victory came more than a year after he topped an initial vote in 2015 that was eventually thrown out amid suspicions of fraud.
Senate leader Youri Latortue, who led the swearing-in ceremony Tuesday and leads a party allied with Moïse’s Tet Kale faction, told the new president that lawmakers were “ready to cooperate with you for the benefit of the country.”
An entrepreneur from northern Haiti, Moïse had never run for office until he was hand-picked in 2015 to be the Tet Kale party candidate by Martelly.
Source: Associated Press