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Haiti Awaits New Government After PM Resigns

Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe speaks during an interview with Associated Press in Port-au-Prince, Dec. 15, 2014.
Former Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe speaks during an interview with Associated Press in Port-au-Prince, Dec. 15, 2014.

Haiti was under a caretaker government on Monday after the weekend resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe plunged the country into uncertainty as political forces jockeyed to fill the political void.

A replacement is due to be named by Wednesday under a timetable established by a special commission last week.

President Michel Martelly, who began talks with political leaders on Monday to find a consensus candidate acceptable for ratification by parliament, is due to hold a press conference late Monday to discuss implementation of the commission's recommendations.

On Friday Martelly accepted the commission's recommendations, including the resignations of Lamothe, the entire cabinet, the head of the Supreme Court and an interim electoral council, as part of an effort to resolve a long-running dispute over delayed legislative and municipal elections.

Observers say any slippage could be taken as a sign of bad faith by Martelly who critics accuse of seeking to rule without parliament as the country heads into a crucial election year.

Speculation about the new prime minister has focused on several names, including the current Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Charles Jean-Jacques, Senator and former interior minister Jocelerme Privert, former prime minister Jean-Max Bellerive and current Finance Minister Marie-Carmelle Jean-Marie.

If elections are not held before Jan. 12 the parliament will shut down, leaving the country without a functioning government.

One plan under discussion involves extending parliamentary terms until elections next summer, with presidential elections in November.

Haiti, the western hemisphere's poorest country and which faces the greatest income inequality, is still recovering from an earthquake five years ago that leveled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince. In recent weeks demonstrators in several cities have accused the government of corruption, calling for the resignation of Lamothe and Martelly.

One man was found shot dead on Saturday during a protest near the ruins of the presidential palace.

The United Nations is investigating another incident on Friday when a Jordanian peace-keeper was accused of "excessive use of force" while confronting protesters.

Lamothe, 42, succumbed to domestic and international pressure by resigning on Sunday.

"We did everything we could to advance the country," he said in a speech, reeling off a list of accomplishments since taking office in May 2012, from education to crime reduction.

Lamothe was expected to run for president next year, but his forced resignation may put him out of the running.