PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti’s opposition on Tuesday rejected a proposal by outgoing President Michel Martelly to form a temporary government to organize elections, after a run-off presidential vote was canceled last month amid violence and allegations of fraud.
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 sometimes violent protests erupted 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 would resign and be replaced by a candidate to be approved by parliament, government-allied lawmaker Gary Bodeau said.
A source at Paul’s office said on Monday the prime minister had drafted a resignation letter, and a source at the presidential palace said early on Tuesday that the letter had been received.
However, an aide to Paul said later on Tuesday the letter was ultimately never sent, and that therefore his resignation had not been tendered.
Lawmaker Bodeau said the eventual new prime minister would rule jointly with a council of ministers after Martelly, a former singer known as “Sweet Micky,” leaves office and until new elections were organized by May.
But run-off candidate Jude Celestin’s party and other opposition groups want an interim government to be organized by a Supreme Court judge.
“We reject the current initiative by Martelly and Parliament. It is a joke,” said Samuel Madistin, spokesman for a group of eight opposition parties.
Celestin 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.
“They are allies of Martelly and we don’t want them. This initiative is null and void,” said Volcy Assad, from the Petit Desalin party that is organizing street protests.
The opposition said elections cannot be organized under Martelly, or Paul, who was considered to be part of the president’s administration.
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.
(This version of the story corrects first, third and fourth paragraphs to indicate prime minister prepared but did not send resignation letter)
Additional reporting by Andres Martinez Casares; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel and Simon Gardner; Editing by Paul Simao, Grant McCool and Dan Grebler