Haiti’s President Leaves Office Without Successor

Haiti’s President Leaves Office Without SuccessorHaiti’s President Leaves Office Without Successor

Haitian President Michel Martelly gave a farewell speech and departed from his office with no successor yet chosen. A constitutional crisis was narrowly avoided after a last-ditch agreement.

Michel Martelly took office in May 2011 and is departing on what was scheduled to be the first day of Port-au-Prince’s annual three-day Carnival celebration.

Authorities, however, called off the Sunday festivities, which begin the Mardi Gras season, due to tensions fueled by political uncertainty. A runoff election had been cancelled last month after violent protests triggered by suspicions about vote rigging, AFP reported.

With quarrelling political factions throwing Haiti into a constitutional crisis, a last-minute deal was forged between a departing Martelly and Haitian lawmakers less than 24 hours before his scheduled departure from office.

The deal states that an interim government will rule until an elected leader can take office on May 14. The twice-postponed presidential and legislative runoff is rescheduled for April 24.

A runoff between Martelly’s favored candidate, Jovenel Moise, and opposition candidate Jude Celestin, was called off following allegations that foul play had helped the government candidate take the first round of elections in August 2015. Martelly’s government has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

The electoral crisis has highlighted Haiti’s long struggle on the road to democracy since the Duvalier dictatorship ended 30 years ago.  The political instability has also been further increasing inflation, which affects most people in the country, as 60% of Haitians live under the poverty line.

Carnival or Mardi Gras is regarded as one of the few annual occasions that brings people together across Haiti despite their differences and divisions.