Haiti profile

President: Michel Martelly

Haiti's President Michel Martelly Mr Martelly was known for his charismatic performances in his previous career as a singer

Michel Martelly, who first made his name on the Haitian music scene, was inaugurated as president in May 2011 after coming out of nowhere to win 68% of votes in the run-off of a hotly-contested presidential election in March.

Mr Martelly ran an unusually slick campaign, enlisting the help of election consultants to project a more serious image than that of the flamboyant musician who made his name playing compas dance music in the 1980s.

Mr Martelly had eschewed any involvement in the growing opposition to the Duvalier regime in the 1980s, and only became politically active in opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first freely-elected president in 1991.

Sweet Micky

Mr Martelly's shows were patronised by some leading figures in the violent military dictatorship that ousted Mr Aristide later that year, which is when he acquired the nickname of "Sweet Micky". After Mr Aristide's return to Haiti in 1994 Mr Martelly largely concentrated on his musical career.

Mr Martelly's pledge to rebuild a country still reeling from the after-effects of the devastating January 2010 earthquake appealed to the poor and unemployed, and he became especially popular with younger voters.

However, he courted controversy in 2012 by advocating the re-establishement of Haiti's army, which was scrapped in the 1990s because of its history of coups and violence. He faced protests in October 2012 at enduring corruption and his failure to alleviate poverty.

The son of an oil company executive, Mr Martelly was educated at a prestigious Roman Catholic school in Port-au-Prince and attended junior colleges in the US, although he never graduated.

Prime Minister: Laurent Lamothe

Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe Mr Lamonthe helped found a telecommunications company

Foreign Minister Laurent Lamothe, whom parliament approved as prime minister in May 2012, was President Martelly's fourth nomination for the post since taking office a year earlier.

A successful businessman and close associate of the president, Mr Lamothe has a reputation for drive and competence both in commerce and government.

He replaces Garry Conille, who resigned in February after disputes with the president and his own ministers over a parliamentary inquiry into the nationality of senior officials.

Mr Lamothe, born in 1972, comes from an intellectual background, attended business school in the US, and was one of the founders of the Global Voice Group telecommuncations company, which has extensive interests in Africa. He also represented Haiti in the Davis Cup international tennis competition.

Like his predecessor and President Martelly, he has made infrastructure repair, transparency in aid disbursement and attracting foreign investment his priorities. His strong anti-contraband stance is likely to be put to the test by Haiti's porous border with the Dominican Republic.

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