Haiti set to inaugurate new president
President-elect Jovenel Moise will be inaugurated Tuesday after having survived Haiti’s year-and-a-half electoral crisis, assuming power as political tensions continue to simmer.
The 48-year-old Haitian banana exporter who has never held political office was the hand-picked candidate of former president Michel Martelly to represent the center-right Tet Kale Party (PHTK).
More than 2,000 people have been invited to watch Moise become the 58th head of state of the first black republic, in an event that will include an oath of office at the parliament and a religious ceremony.
His election brought an end to the impoverished Caribbean nation’s long-running political nightmare, which began in October 2015 when Moise won a first round of voting but the results were annulled because of massive fraud.
In February 2016, with Martelly’s five-year term nearing its end and his political succession in limbo, Haiti’s parliament elected Jocelerme Privert, president of the Senate at the time, to be interim president.
The elections were rescheduled for October and then postponed to November after Hurricane Matthew battered the country.
So it is finally on Tuesday that Privert will hand over the presidential sash to the National Assembly speaker, who will then give it to Moise.
– Simmering tensions –
Late Monday, workers were busy finishing the stands for the guests: the main platform was designed to resemble the presidential palace that once stood there, in the heart of Port au Prince, before the devastating 2010 earthquake destroyed the century-old building.
Austerity has been the motto of the ceremony, as Haiti is suffering from an economic crisis with more than $2 billion in debt and anemic growth that is not expected to surpass one percent this year.
According to Moise’s transition team, the inaugural costs are close to $1 million, a tighter budget than those of predecessors Rene Preval and Martelly, which cost more than $4 million and $2 million, respectively.
The Dominican, Venezuelan, Guyanese and Trinidadian presidents are slated to appear at the ceremonies alongside foreign delegations. No former Haitian head of state has officially confirmed attendance.
The incoming president has also said he had invited the 53 other former presidential candidates to signal his willingness to ease political tensions.
But the country’s political temperature remains high with several of his main opponents contesting his first-round victory.
The businessman is also at the center of an unresolved money laundering probe. He denies any wrongdoing.
The investigation was launched in 2013 as a routine bank-regulation procedure. The Central Financial Intelligence Unit (UCREF) forwarded a secret report about the inquiry to prosecutors last summer.
However, the investigating judge took no action until four opposition senators recently demanded information about the findings.
The investigating judge delivered conclusions to the government prosecutor who did do made any public announce yet on the case.
The suspense undermines Moise’s already fragile popularity.
He was declared the winner with 55 percent of the votes, but with a dismal turnout of just 21 percent.
Civic malaise believed to be linked to a lack of political campaigning and distrust in elected officials’ ability to improve conditions in the poorest country in the Americas.