Jovenel Moise sworn in as Haiti's new president
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Jovenel Moise was sworn in today as Haiti's president for the next five years after a bruising two-year election cycle, inheriting a chronically struggling economy and a deeply divided society.
The 48-year-old entrepreneur took the oath of office in a Parliament chamber packed with Haitian lawmakers and foreign dignitaries from countries including the U.S., Venezuela and France. He smiled slightly as the Senate leader slipped Haiti's red and blue presidential sash over his left shoulder.
In his inaugural address during the day of prayer and platitudes, Moise gave a rough outline of his government's priorities and pledged to bring "real improvements" to the economically strapped nation, particularly the long-neglected countryside.
He urged unity and promised to strengthen institutions, fight corruption and bring more investments and jobs to one of the least-developed nations in the world.
"We can change Haiti if we work together," Moise said to applause on the grounds of what used to be the national palace, which was one of many buildings obliterated during a devastating earthquake that hit outside the capital in January 2010.
There's little expectation among citizens that Moise's new government can overcome Haiti's deep problems of poverty and economic malaise in the next five years, but he does have a majority in Parliament and some are hopeful the businessman-turned-politician will make steady advances.