In his second interview with Voice of America in four months, Haitian President Michel Martelly told VOA Creole on Wednesday that he supports the gradual departure of the UN Stabilization Mission in his country, which has been stationed in Haiti since 2004.
President Martelly also said that he is moving quickly to put a defense force in place in Haiti. The country has not had an army since 1995, when then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded the armed forces.
The Haitian leader was in Washington to attend the graduation ceremony of the Inter-American Defense College, where four Haitians were receiving diplomas. He also had other reasons to visit the college.
In his interview with VOA’s Creole Service, Mr. Martelly said he has been seeking the assistance of the college in creating the defense force in Haiti. Asked how those talks were going, he said, “We are making progress.”
President Martelly also expressed his determination to organize legislative and local elections this October, already three years overdue.
Segments of VOA Creole’s interview with the president aired on several radio affiliates in Haiti. The interview was also carried on Haitian television affiliate stations the following day, including the state broadcaster Télé Nationale, and Canal 11 and Radio-Télé Ginen in Port-au-Prince.
The June 25 visit marks the second time President Martelly has appeared on Creole Service’s programming in recent months. He gave an on-camera interview to the service in February, after meeting with President Obama at the White House.
VOA Director David Ensor welcomed the Haitian leader on his arrival at VOA and said his visit for the second time this year shows his awareness of the major impact VOA Creole has in Haiti. “President Martelly,” Ensor said, “like all of us at VOA, knows that our Creole broadcasts are essential listening for many people in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora.”
According to 2012 data, VOA Creole reaches 25 percent of the adult population in Haiti, and is recognized as the leading international news organization broadcasting to the country.