PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- A Haitian judge was sworn in Tuesday as interim president to replace ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a ceremony boycotted by diplomats in the Haitian capital to protest the military takeover.
Most countries have refused to recognize the new government in the wake of last week's coup ousting Haiti's first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Justice Joseph Nerette, the longest-serving member of Haiti's Supreme Court, took the oath of office during a nationally televised ceremony at the National Assembly amid heavy army security.
'It is in a spirit of sacrifice that we are responding to the call of the nation,' an uneasy-looking Nerette said, promising to respect the constitution and calling for national reconciliation.
Coup leader Gen. Raoul Cedras and members of the military's high command participated in the ceremony. No diplomats or international organizations were present.
Earlier, Prime Minister Rene Preval, who has been in hiding since the Sept. 30 coup that toppled Aristide, was declared by the new regime removed from office.
National Assembly President Dejean Belizaire said in a statement that 'the institutional void has been filled and the National Assembly ... has applied the constitution by choosing Judge Joseph Nerette.'
Preval said from hiding Tuesday that Parliament's move was unconstitutional because it came while heavily armed soldiers surrounded the lawmakers.
'The decision of the Parliament is unconstitutional because this decision has been obtained under pressure from the military,' said Preval, who has called for an uprising to displace the coup leaders and allow Aristide to return to power from exile.
After the ceremony Nerette, 67, received a 21-gun salute from the presidential guard and hosted a reception at the National Palace. Diplomats stayed away from the reception and guards prevented reporters from approaching Nerette.
Canadian Ambassador Bernard Dussault said his government would not recognize the provisional government. 'The international community and countries of the hemispere, including Canada, will continue their pressure and sanctions against the coup and for the restauration of deposed President Aristide.'
In Washington, U.S. officials and ministers of the Organization of American States convening on the Haitian situation said they would refuse to recognize the new president.
After a daylong meeting, the OAS called on all member countries to impose a strict trade embargo against Haiti and to freeze Haitian assets abroad until democracy is restored in the Caribbean nation. Humanitarian assistance was exempted from the trade embargo.
A spokesman for the Haitian Embassy in Mexico City said Nerette was not well known and could not provide information about him. 'He is a puppet of the military,' said Moise Dorse, adviser to Haiti's Ambassador to Mexico.
Witnesses said just 30 of the 110 members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies were present Monday when the presidency was declared vacant.
Many lawmakers were at the capital's international airport, where a delegation from the OAS was meeting with Gen. Cedras in an unsuccessful attempt to secure Aristide's return.
The Parliament building was surrounded by troops with their guns pointed toward the building and witnesses said soldiers entered the chamber where the lawmakers were meeting before the declaration was signed.
The streets of Port-au-Prince were generally deserted Tuesday, but some Haitians were not impressed by their new interim president. 'This is a masquerade,' said student Gary Savin, 22. 'We still want our president back, and we know that we will have him, because the soldiers cannot kill all of us.'
'I still see Aristide as my choice, so I will do all I can to mobilize the country against the puppet military president,' said mechanic Joseph Badio, 32.
'The crisis is not solved,' said a spokesman for the Association of Haitian Investors, who asked to remain anonymous. 'Instability will continue and the private sector will have big problems getting contracts from the United States and elsewhere.'
While Cedras met for a second time with the OAS delegation Monday, dozens of troops showed up at the airport, disrupted the meeting and prevented Haitian political leaders from flying to Venezuela to meet with Aristide, witnesses said. The mayor of Port-au-Prince, a close ally of Aristide, was arrested at the airport and was beaten, witnesses said.
Some of the soldiers pointed their weapons at Cedras and threatened him with death if he betrayed them, said witnesses. But military- controlled National Radio broadcast a statement denying that Cedras had been placed under arrest.
According to the constitution, after the naming of an interim president new presidential elections must be held within 90 days. But Parliament has made no mention of elections.