Deal Reached in Provisional Haiti Govt

Deal Reached in Provisional Haiti Govt

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- An official with the Organization of American States told The Associated Press on Saturday that top Haitian leaders have reached an agreement to install a provisional government less than a day before President Michel Martelly is scheduled to step down.

Special mission leader Ronald Sanders said the interim president will be elected by Parliament for a term of 120 days. He said Prime Minister Evans Paul will remain in his position until lawmakers confirm a consensus prime minister in upcoming days.

The interim government will continue an electoral process that began last year. It will hold a second round of presidential and legislative elections on April 24. A new president is scheduled to be installed on May 14 and will rule Haiti for the next five years.

"The country now has an opportunity for a fresh start," Sanders said.

Sanders said the deal was signed overnight following a Friday meeting with Martelly, the two leaders of Haiti's bicameral legislature and numerous lawmakers. Sanders is an Antiguan diplomat who is mission leader and chairman of the 35-nation OAS' permanent council.

A senior member of Haiti's ruling party who was not authorized to talk to the media told the AP that lawmakers expect to meet on Sunday to elect the interim president.

The OAS mission had been trying to mediate a solution to a standoff over disputed earlier over round of voting in August and October that led officials to suspend a runoff election that had been scheduled for Jan. 24.

OAS officials have held more than 25 meetings since they arrived last Sunday, but never met with Jude Celestin, a candidate who had been boycotting the presidential runoff, despite numerous invitations to him.

Celestin did not immediately return a call for comment. The OAS, however, did meet with other members of the opposition alliance known as the Group of Eight, which includes Celestin.

That alliance had been seeking a transitional government led by a Supreme Court leader to ensure a commission verifies the disputed election results. Celestin was boycotting despite official returns that showed him coming in second and winning a spot in the runoff against Martelly's preferred successor, Jovenel Moise.

(KA)