Haiti is likely to install an interim government to transfer power to a new president, a senior U.S. official said on Monday, after the Caribbean nation called off an election days before current President Michel Martelly is due to leave office.
The United States’ Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten said Washington wanted to see new elections quickly and opposed a long transitional period, but acknowledged elections were unlikely to be held before Martelly’s Feb. 7 departure date.
“Realistically speaking,” Merten told Reuters, “we may be looking at some sort of temporary solution until there is a handover to a new elected president. Our fear is that we go into a situation that is open ended.”
“In our analysis that is a dangerous place to go,” Merten said.
Opposition parties want Martelly to leave on Feb. 7, as mandated by the constitution, although some in his party would like him to remain in office to oversee the elections until his five-year term ends in May.
Haiti was due to choose Martelly’s replacement on Sunday, but the two-man race was postponed indefinitely after opposition candidate Jude Celestin refused to participate over alleged fraud that sparked anti-government protests and violence.
Some candidates have called for an unelected transitional government to take Martelly’s place for a longer period of time, harking back to a violent two-year period after a coup in 2004.
“What is not a good thing is seeing people out on the streets and creating disruption and intimidation, that is not acceptable in our view,” said Merten, who was the U.S. ambassador to Haiti at the time of the 2010 earthquake and presidential election that brought Martelly to power.