PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Former Haitian exile Gerard Latortue was sworn in yesterday as the country's prime minister, promising to unite the country after months of bloodshed and political strife that led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Under heavy security, Latortue took the oath of office in front of a crowd of 200 people, saying he was happy to serve his country.
"This is an occasion for hope for all Haitians," he said. "Together we will form a responsible government that respects its institutions, and I will see that every dollar given to development projects will be well spent."
Latortue, 69, is a former UN official and business consultant who arrived in Haiti on Wednesday after living in Florida.
He spent much of the 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship, which ended in 1986, in exile. He became foreign minister in 1988 for former President Leslie Manigat, who was toppled in a military coup.
Earlier, Latortue told pro-Aristide politicians that he wants to hold legislative elections in six to eight months, Cabinet Minister Leslie Voltaire said. He also criticized Jamaica's decision to host Aristide, who was expected to return to the region early next week from exile in Africa.
The political developments came as US Marines reported yesterday that they came under fire overnight at a factory that produces garments for American companies. Gunmen also shot up a nearby car dealership.