PORT-AU-PRINCE – Haitian President Michel Martelly ended his term on Sunday, leaving the country without a president, and called for unity to overcome the problems facing the nation.
“Today is a difficult day, but we have to unite to face the difficulties,” said the outgoing leader in his last appearance before the National Congress, which must now name a provisional government, given that presidential runoff elections have been suspended.
Martelly invited Haitians to leave violence to the side “because ... it doesn’t help anything,” thanking them for giving him the opportunity to serve as president since May 14, 2011.
“In my five years I did everything to help my country develop and enter into modernity,” he said. “Since the (January 2010) earthquake, I wanted to serve my country. Five years later I’m ready to appear before the court of history.”
On Saturday, the government and the parliament agreed to form a provisional government – including a provisional president to be elected by the National Congress “in the coming days” – to avoid a power vacuum with the end of Martelly’s term, the accord establishing a transition government for 120 days that will have to organize new elections scheduled for April 24.
The president elected at that time will be sworn in on May 14, according to the details of the pact.
In the first electoral round, held on Oct. 25, 2015, Jovenel Moise with the governing PHTK party garnered the most votes, albeit a plurality, followed by Lapeh opposition party candidate Jude Celestin, but the latter refused to participate in the runoff, claiming “serious irregularities” in the process.
Meanwhile, the first day of Carnival in Haiti was cancelled due to the political crisis, with Prime Minister Evans Paul, who will remain in his post for three more days, making the announcement.