Updated 08:46 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

Why Haiti’s President Stepped Down without a Successor, What Happens Next?

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Haiti's President Michel Martelly has stepped down from his position without leaving the country a successor.

Martelly, who spent five years as the nation's president, delivered a farewell address to Haiti's National Assembly on Sunday, CNN reported. He was able to leave his post due to a last-minute agreement made hours before that allows a transitional government to take over, according to AFP (via Yahoo! News).

"During its long road to the promised land, Haiti will remember that a certain Michel Joseph Martelly -- Micky to his people -- loved, gave, and built," the former musician said during his speech before lawmakers, as quoted by AFP.

Two presidential runoffs in October and December were postponed as security became threatened by violent protests from anti-government demonstrators and "because such large swatches of Haitian society had rejected the election," according to Jake Johnston, research associate for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, as reported by CNN. Johnston is currently in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

In his address, Martelly thanked those who supported him during his five-year presidency, and defended his family against embezzlement allegations, AFP further reported.

The outgoing president, however, also agreed that history "will recall my failures, for which I take sole responsibility, among them the delay of presidential elections," the news outlet added. The electoral process was halted by defiance from the opposition, which denounced an "electoral coup d'etat" instigated by the executive power.

Martelly's favored candidate, Jovenel Moïse, won 32.76 percent of the presidential votes in the first round of elections in October. Opposition Jude Celestin, who got 25.29 percent votes, said that the results are a "ridiculous farce," AFP noted. Demonstrators argued that foul play was involved to make Moïse win the first round.

The second round of presidential and partial legislative voting on Dec. 27 was postponed indefinitely, stopping Martelly from transferring power to an elected successor on Feb. 7 as what the Constitution requires.

Johnston said that further investigation should be launched into the alleged fraud in the October elections.

"The key for whoever is provisional president is to restore credibility to an electoral system which no longer has the trust of the Haitian people. Less than a quarter of all registered voters participated in October. In order to achieve this, first, there must be an investigation and verification of the October 25 vote," Johnston explained, as quoted by CNN.

With the new agreement, Haiti's Parliament will elect an interim president for a 120-day mandate and confirm a consensus prime minister, CNN reported. A new round of elections will be held on April 24, with the elected winner to assume the presidency on May 14.

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