“Martelly is president,” shouts Eddy Exume, after preliminary election results in Haiti were announced on the radio.
Transformed from “bad boy of compas” to president-elect, former singer Joseph Michel “Sweet Micky” Martellycaptured 67.57 percent of votes, beating Mirlande Manigat with 31.74 percent.
“Everyone was happy,” said Exume, a 23-year-old Port-au-Prince resident. “There were no riots or violence after the announcements were made. People gathered around Champ de Mars in celebration.”
“[I am] touched and proud, proud to be called to the service of this corner of land where I’m born, who cherished me beyond all my hopes and that I like passionately,” said Martelly in his victory speech.
“Yes, Haitian people you…showered me with honor, me the bad boy (enfant terrible) by considering me worthy to represent and lead to good port what we have in common of most precious, Haiti.”
Martelly also recognized the international community for the “support of the electoral process and the respect for the Haitian people.”
“I hope that together we will work for the happiness of Haiti, my country, your partner and friend,” he said.
The U.S embassy in Haiti issued a statement congratulating the outcome of the second elections. “The announcement by the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP) of the preliminary results of the second round of the elections is another important milestone as the people of Haiti move forward to rebuild their country,”
Exume, like many other Haitians, patiently awaited the results of the March 20 elections. Though the results were delayed due to fraud suspicions, the “cases were isolated and reduced” compared to the Nov. 28 elections.
Yves Dayiti, a host of the District’s Haitian radio show, “Konbit Lakay,” witnessed the run-off elections.
“After the election, I predicted Martelly was going to win,” said Dayiti, who said the streets were filled with Martelly supporters.
“People lost faith in the political class,” he said. “They want change.”
Martelly’s popularity stems from the masses’ lack of faith in politicians. For decades, many Haitians felt as if politicians have ignored their issues, so they decided that someone who has not been part of the political system is worth a shot.
“I’m Haitian and I would love to see Haiti get better,” Exume said in Haitian Creole. “I have hope in Martelly. Now, I’m ready to see what happens tomorrow because I’m looking forward for change.”
Many of the Haitian youth has “hope” in Martelly because they believe he will better serve the nation’s large youth population. Education and jobs are among the top priorities, and Exume believes this can help change the lives of the youth.
“Since there are no jobs or education, the youth get involved in bad things because they have nothing to do,” Exume said. “Martelly promised that he would change this system.”
Martelly effectively transformed his “Sweet Mickey” image for a more conservative and polished look with the help of the Madrid-based Ostos & Sola, an international campaign-consulting firm. Ostos & Sola previously ran John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008.
But Martelly never disclosed sources of campaign contributions.
While in Haiti, Dayiti said he received text messages on his Digicel phone encouraging customers to vote for Martelly. Digicel, owned by Denis O’Brien of Ireland is the largest mobile phone network provider in the Caribbean, the Pacific and Central America, with a total investment of more than $3.4 billion.
“Think about it,” Dayiti said, “How many people can have access to that database?”
Former First Lady Manigat has a chance to contest the run-off results, if she so chooses, which is allowed by the Haitian Constitution under Article 178.
When Martelly assumes office, he will be left to address many of the Haitians’ needs that have been magnified after the Jan 2010 earthquakes.
“We plan from the first days of our term to sell a new image of Haiti,” Martelly told Reuters in an interview.
“They have always sold our misery, our misfortunes, our cholera, the images of the earthquake, while Haiti in my eyes is a rich country, which has not been exploited yet.”
“Talking is one thing, but governing is another,” Dayiti said.
Bob Corbett, who maintains the most active email discussion forums on Haiti, believes the tasks that lie ahead for the president-elect “will depend upon on character, honesty and seriousness of purpose.”
“The question will be: will he work for the interests of The Haitian People or will he, like nearly all Haitian presidents, work for his/her own interests and those who are supporters? Time will tell,” Corbett said.