Michel Martelly or 'Sweet Micky' the incredibly popular Haitian singer is to become the next president-elect of Haiti. He triumphed in preliminary election results which pointed to a victory with nearly 68% of the vote. As the results were announced crowds flooded the streets in celebration.
Martelly’s election campaign promised to ‘Shape the future of Haiti today’. His policies include an ambitious rebuilding project and the restoration of the Haitian armed forces which were previously disbanded in 1995. Despite little political experience his public standing and pledge for reform has evidently ignited a spark of hope in the hearts of many.
As a performer Martelly was the champion of the national kompas music. Kompas music originated with iconic Haitian saxophonist and band leader, Nemours Jean-Baptiste. Martelly updated the style and pioneered the use of synthesizers and keyboards. His style infused roots, salsa, jazz and reggae with kompas sensibilities. The self-styled ‘Bad Boy of Compas’, Sweet Micky was known to perform provocatively. Such capers included satiric skits that earned him a reputation as a musical comedian onstage.
Haiti was the first black republic following the revolution of 1804. Haitian culture is rich and draws deeply from traditions of West African Vodun, European influence and Caribbean carnival. Currently Haiti is reeling from the earthquake of 2010, a hugely catastrophic natural disaster which had an estimated death toll of 220 to 316,000 people.The previous president René Préval has received much criticism for his handling of the earthquake. Previously, the father-son Duvalier dictatorship had devastated the Haitian economy and plundered the country's financial reserves into corruption. Their totalitarian rule stretched over a twenty-nine year period from 1957 to 1986. In his first public address Martelly referred to Haiti’s chequered political past and expounded his agenda to ‘leave the old demons of Haitian politics behind me and look to the future’.
Critics have stressed Martelly’s lack of political experience and overly ambitious reconstruction agenda as points for major concern. Jean Robert Lafortune, president of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition commented, ‘This election is a comedy, won by the comedian Martelly’.
Michel Martelly, musical sweetheart of Haiti turned political luminary, promises to reform a country in crisis.Time will be the test.