Haiti: Moïse says he’s ready for tests facing Haiti’s next leader

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse during an interview with reporters shortly after the results of the election were released, Nov 29. 2016. PHOTO/AFP

Haitian President-elect Jovenel Moïse, said Tuesday that he is looking forward to the challenge of building consensus with lawmakers and helping fix a political culture perpetually at war with itself.

“I am working hard to be close with the Parliament because there’s no way a president can work without deputies, without senators,” Moïse told reporters in his first interview since officials issued preliminary results indicating he won the November 20 election redo in a landslide.

Moïse earned the presidency with over 55 percent of the votes in a field of 27 candidates. He got 385,000 votes more than his nearest competitor, Jude Célestin, who had 19 percent of the vote.

Haiti’s electoral council will not certify the preliminary results until all challenges are resolved by a special tribunal. Electoral winners are to be certified December 29.

In a presidential election held in October 2015, Moïse finished at the top of 54 candidates in first-round results after his ads blanketed Haitian TV and radio for weeks. A businessman from northern Haiti, he had never run for office until he was hand-picked to be the Tet Kale party candidate by outgoing President Michel Martelly.

Opponents quickly alleged fraud by Haiti’s electoral council and Martelly’s political operation. An array of rights groups, local election monitors and others made similar charges. The disputed results were annulled following a review of a special Haitian commission.

Some critics continue to view his ascent with suspicion, suggesting Martelly is using the candidate as a proxy. Moïse laughed off the criticism, saying it is mostly about the snobbery of political elites in the capital.
The 48-year-old father of 3 said Martelly would be an adviser when he becomes president, and he wants to study his predecessor’s successes and mistakes. Other previous presidents will also serve as advisers, he said.

Moïse laid out his top priorities for strengthening the country, a plan that focuses on agriculture, education, energy reform, and investment.

Reviving the economically challenged countryside, including Haiti’s southwest region, which was devastated by last month’s Hurricane Matthew, is perhaps his main goal as he has repeatedly spoken about agriculture as the engine of his homeland’s fragile economy.

During his campaign, Moïse touted his business background in agriculture as a central selling point.
In 2014, he launched the Agritrans banana exporting venture on about 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres)in northeast Haiti. He proudly refers to himself by his campaign moniker, “Neg Bannan Nan” — Banana Man in Haitian Creole.

His first business venture was an auto parts company in Port-de-Paix, and he also distributed drinking water and created a project to bring renewable energy to several towns.

A monitoring team from the Organization of American States said Tuesday that its observations were in line with Haiti’s preliminary tally.

The next few weeks and months will be bumpy and will test the President-elect’s statecraft and capacity to move the country in a new and hopeful direction.

Source: Associated Press