With a brisk clap of his hands, Michel Martelly summed up the first steps he would take if he ever left the music business and became the president of Haiti. “First thing, after I establish my power, which would be very strong and necessary, I would close that congress thing,” Mr. Martelly was quoted as saying in 1997, when he was still a hugely popular singer. “Out of my way.” His words have proven prophetic. A political crisis almost four years into Mr. Martelly’s presidency gave life to the fantasy he once described: He is now running the country without the checks and balances of a parliament. After Mr. Martelly and his opponents in Parliament could not agree on elections, most legislative terms expired, and the seats remain empty. Only 11 elected officials remain in the entire country, and the president is one of them.
For two months, Mr. Martelly has governed Haiti by executive order, concentrating power in the hands of a man who, his critics say, is a prisoner of his past, surrounded by a network of friends and aides who have been arrested on charges of rape, murder, drug trafficking and kidnapping.