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Opinion

Five tasks for Haiti's new pop-singer president

Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly has officially – and finally – been proclaimed president-elect of Haiti, more than two weeks after officials from the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced he had edged out former first lady Mirlande Manigat in a runoff with over 67 percent of the vote.

The wait has been long for Haitians, who first went to the polls last November. The battered country’s future is now in the hands of the 50-year-old Martelly, a popular singer with little political experience, but who led an impressive campaign. Martlelly must now address the following five tasks:

- Bernice Robertson and Kimberly Abbott

3. Find Haitians jobs

Third, Martelly must help Haitians find jobs beyond the cash-for-work programs offered to date. While those programs have been helpful, they aren’t permanent, and are centered in Port-au-Prince. More initiatives are needed to create opportunities in the provinces and lure people back to the outskirts of the country, or poverty and overcrowding will persist in the capital.

Jobs will come through agriculture and direct foreign investments, but the new president must first build upon the efforts of the outgoing administration to improve the investment climate. The opening of the industrial zones in the north, which will create tens of thousands of jobs, is a good start. Martelly must ensure that arable land is not used for industrial purposes. Increased investments in agriculture will not only provide more jobs, but also help Haiti feed itself.


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