Haiti’s President Michel Martelly stepped down from his post Sunday without a successor in place, after a runoff to presidential elections was postponed twice due to allegations of fraud.
Martelly, who finished his five-year term, told the parliament in his farewell speech that his “biggest regret is that the presidential election was postponed,” the Associated Press (AP) reported. The outgoing president added: “I said I would not hand over power to those that don’t believe in elections, but the Parliament guaranteed that they will do everything to make sure the process carries on,” according to the New York Times.
An agreement for an interim government was reached less than 24 hours before Martelly’s departure and was announced Saturday, AP reported. It would rule till May 14, when a new elected leader would take over as president, the result of an election runoff scheduled for April 24.
However, a group of losing candidates from the first round of the disputed elections in October 2015 called for a supreme court judge to choose the interim president, saying members of parliament did not have the legitimacy to choose an interim government, since they themselves were elected in a flawed vote, Reuters reported.
“This alleged agreement attempts to validate the 2015 elections as if they were regular, regardless of popular protests that resulted in numerous casualties,” opposition spokesman Samuel Madistin said in a statement.
According to the New York Times, Martelly agreed to allow a member of an opposition party to be selected as interim president. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reportedly urged Haitian authorities to implement the accord “in order to ensure the democratic transfer of power to elected officials,” in a statement released Sunday.
Amid the political uncertainty, the country has been hit by protests and violence the last few days. At least one person was beaten to death Friday, after former army soldiers supporting Martelly took to the streets to protest against demands for his ouster, the New York Times reported.
Reuters reported opposition protesters and police clashed in downtown Port-au-Prince Sunday, in the area that hosts the heavily attended and raucous annual Mardi Gras celebrations. The carnival organizing committee reportedly called off the first day of the festival, citing the unrest.