Jean’s comments came as Martelly, a Kompa singer known for mooning the crowds, was sworn in as the 56th President of the Republic of Haiti, replacing Rene Preval in the post.
Jean, who was among the many gathered for the swearing in on the lawns of the ruined National Palace earlier today, said Martelly’s dynamic promise of change has resonated with the people.
“It means a new start … the people want education not handouts. Now they have a leader who will mobilize then,” Jean told Reuters, comparing Martelly’s election victory with that of U.S. President Barack Obama in November 2008.
Ironically, during Martelly’s swearing in, in the country’s makeshift Parliament, the lights went out.
But the swearing in continues in the dark while Martelly went on to repeat his promises to transform Haiti from a development basket case into a new Caribbean destination for investment and tourism that will provide jobs and better lives for its 10 million people.
“Haiti has been sleeping,” Martelly, 50, said as dozens remained nearby in tent cities close to the former Palace. “Today she will wake up, stand up.”
He pledged to provide free education to the widely uneducated population and swore to bring to justice anyone who brings disorder to the country. Martelly also proposed restoring Haiti’s disbanded army to eventually replace the more than 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers in his country.
Several foreign dignitaries including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Jamaica PM Bruce Golding and DR President Leonel Fernandez attended the swearing in. Though invited, neither former Presidents Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier or Jean Bertrand Aristide attended.