Haiti's PM resigns to clear way for interim government

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 02, 2016 4:05 AM

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti's prime minister has resigned as part of an effort to clear the way for a temporary government to replace outgoing President Michel Martelly after a botched election and violent street protests last month, government sources said.

Martelly, who heads Haiti's government, is due to leave office on Sunday. A Jan. 24 run-off to choose his successor was canceled after people took to the streets to protest against what the opposition said was fraud in the first round.

Under a proposal drawn up by Martelly and parliamentary leaders, Prime Minister Evans Paul's replacement would be chosen by consensus and approved by parliament and the president this week, lawmaker Gary Bodeau said.

The new prime minister would rule jointly with a council of ministers after Martelly leaves office, Bodeau said.

Run-off candidate Jude Celestin's party and other opposition groups have proposed that an interim government be organized by a supreme court judge, and it was not immediately clear if Paul's resignation would break the impasse.

Celestin had refused to take part in the January vote, which he called "a farce." The impoverished Caribbean nation has been trying since the 1980s to build a stable democracy in the wake of the decades-long rule of the Duvalier family.

Senator Carl Murat Cantave, a government ally, said Martelly had proposed three possible interim prime ministers, including Paul, an option unlikely to be accepted by the opposition. Senator Andris Riche and businessman Reynold Deeb also were put forward, Cantave said.

The opposition does not want elections organized under Martelly, or Paul, who was considered to be part of the president's administration.

Paul wrote his resignation letter on Monday, a senior source in his office told Reuters. A second government source said Martelly had now received it.

"We are going to work relentlessly. We won't sleep if necessary, to make sure a government is in place by the Feb. 7 deadline, and that necessary steps are taken to complete the electoral process," Cantave said.

The United States, which spent some $33 million on the election, fears an interim government might linger for years, leaving Haiti without a democratically elected president, a situation that the country has suffered in the past.

Bodeau said the proposal specified that the new government would have to organize elections and hand over power by May.

(Additional reporting by Andres Martinez Casares; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Simon Gardner and Paul Simao)