Haiti's mood grim as leader leaves with no replacement

Feb 07, 2016, 11:45 PM EST
Crowds celebrate outside the Presidential Palace during the inauguration ceremony on Port au Prince on May 14, 2011.
Source: MINUSTAH PHOTO/flickr

Michel Martelly stepped down as Haitian president on Sunday, leaving a deeply divided country in the hands of a disputed interim government, while the first day of Carnival celebrations was canceled as violent protests erupted.

Reuters reports:

The mood was grim on what should have been a festive day that would have marked a newly elected president, as well as the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship and the start of the Caribbean country's Carnival. Riot police clashed with protesters and Martelly handed back the presidential sash without anyone to succeed him. Weeks of unrest set off by a first-round election that critics say was fraudulent meant the impoverished nation was unable to hold a runoff to chose a new president before Martelly's term ended. Under a last-minute agreement welcomed by Washington and other foreign powers, parliament is due to choose a temporary president in the next few days. Elections are set for April 24 and the winner would take office in May. But there is a major catch. A group of eight losing candidates from the first round rejected the notion of parliament choosing the interim president, and called instead for a Supreme Court judge to lead the process.

The BBC writes:

Under the latest agreement, parliament will elect an interim president and install a transitional government for a four-month term. Mr Martelly is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election but has thrown his weight behind Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter who won the first round of the presidential election in November. But the result has been contested by the opposition challenger, Jude Celestin. He accused the electoral authorities of favouring Mr Moise and threatened to pull out of the runoff vote. Prime Minister Evans Paul - who is due to remain in his post until parliament agrees his replacement - has appealed for calm. On Friday, protesters beat a man to death in the capital, Port-au-Prince, in a clash with ex-soldiers.