Michel Martelly’s ascendancy to Haiti’s presidential seat marks an unexpected evolution in the Caribbean country’s history. On April 4, Martelly, 51, beat out opponent, professor and Haiti’s former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70, with a landslide 67 percent of the votes, The Associated Press reported.
The island nation’s past is peppered with corrupt leaders and nepotism, perhaps most evident in the 29-year father-son Duvalier regime, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 300,000 Haitians and a seemingly endless economic slump.
But Martelly, a carnival singer known more for his lascivious lyrics than political insight, says he will bring change to Haiti with a focus on “action, recovery and renewal,” according to his campaign website.
His outsider status among the country’s close knit political circles may have been the deciding factor in his victory, however. Throughout the elections, Manigat’s camp painted Martelly as an uneducated, immoral candidate who would only throw Haiti’s already fragile socioeconomic state into further disarray.
But in an interview with CNN, Martelly said he is a man of the people. “I’ve been on the ground with for 22 years. The people know me. I represent the light at the end of the tunnel.”