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Haitian lawmakers choose interim president

Jocelerme Privert is expected to hold office for a few months, with elections expected April 24 and a new president sworn in on May 14.
By Stephen Feller   |   Feb. 14, 2016 at 1:58 PM
| License Photo

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Legislators in Haiti have chosen an interim president for the country, the first step toward addressing the void left when former president Michel Martelly left office without a successor last week.

Former president of the Haitian Senate Jocelerme Privert was elected interim president by legislators Sunday after 12 hours of debate and votes over the controversial government action.

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Privert will hold office for a few months, with his major task being to organize runoffs to complete Haitian elections for president and parts of the legislature. A new election is expected to be held April 24, and new president sworn in three weeks later on May 14, the BBC reported.

A runoff election has been postponed twice since accusations of fraud erupted after elections in October because the results favored a largely unknown businessman, Jovenal Moise. Some said he had been handpicked by Martelly to succeed him.

The second place finisher in the race, Jude Celestin, refused to participate until the allegations of fraud against Moise were investigated. Runoffs have since been scheduled, on December 27 and then on January 24, but cancelled due to violence and concerns for citizens' safety.

Martelly officially left office on February 8 without a successor in place, requiring the legislature to take action. Privert was sworn in immediately after legislators chose him over two other candidates who also had been president of the Senate. A new prime minister will now be chosen and a review of the October election will begin.

Although the legislature's move to select a president was controversial among its ranks, the body chose a temporary leader because of concerns for the political situation there which one legislator likened had the potential to become "a political tsunami," the Miami Herald reported.

Privert said after his election he hopes to "foster confidence within all sectors of society" during his short leadership of the Haitian government, according to Voice of America.

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