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Haiti's President Leaves Office Without a Successor

  • VOA News

Haiti's outgoing President Michel Martelly delivers a goodbye salute to supporters before tucking into his vehicle outside the parliament building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.

Haiti's outgoing President Michel Martelly delivers a goodbye salute to supporters before tucking into his vehicle outside the parliament building in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.

Embattled Haitian President Michel Martelly left office Sunday as required by Haiti's constitution, ending his 5-year term with no one elected to replace him.

Ahead of Martelly's departure, the former pop music star told lawmakers in Port-Au-Prince that he is leaving office "to contribute to constitutional normalcy."

He then handed the reins of power to the leader of the heavily guarded national assembly, after an 11th hour deal under which lawmakers are expected to choose an interim president to take Martelly's place.

Prime Minister Evans Paul is Haiti's temporary leader until the provisional president is chosen.

The president's exit is the latest turn in a months-long political crisis triggered by a first round of elections in October that featured 54 candidates seeking to succeed Martelly.

Critics described those polls as rife with corruption and rigged in favor of the little-known ruling party candidate Jovenel Moise. Election tallies triggered protests across the capital and prompted opposition leaders to announce a boycott of any runoff polls.

A second round of voting has since been postponed twice over security concerns in and around the capital, leaving Haiti still struggling to establish a stable and enduring democracy 30 years after the overthrow of the Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship.

The presidential runoff vote has most recently been rescheduled for April 24. The winner is set to take office in May.

Analysts say the ongoing political turmoil has discouraged badly needed foreign investment in the country of 10 million people -- already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

The lack of foreign funds has in turn undercut efforts to recover from a 2010 earthquake that left parts of Port-Au-Prince in ruins.

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