December 16, 2014 / 4:52 AM / 6 years ago

Haiti awaits new government after prime minister resigns

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - A caretaker government was running Haiti on Monday after the weekend resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe plunged the Caribbean nation into uncertainty as political forces jockeyed to fill the void.

Laurent Salvador Lamothe, Prime Minister of Haiti, speaks during the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York in this September 26, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Stan Honda/Pool/Files

The western hemisphere’s poorest country is still recovering from an earthquake five years ago that leveled much of its capital, Port-au-Prince. In recent weeks, demonstrators in many cities have accused the government of corruption, demanding the resignation of Lamothe and President Michel Martelly.

A replacement for Lamothe is due to be named by Wednesday, under a timetable set by a special commission last week.

Martelly, who began talks with political leaders on Monday to find a consensus candidate acceptable for ratification by parliament, has warned it would be “complicated” to implement the panel’s recommendations.

On Monday his spokesman, Lucien Jura, said four hours of talks with the presidents of both houses of parliament had failed to reach agreement on a candidate.

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, in 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, whom 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.

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, ranging 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.

A 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 peacekeeper was accused of “excessive use of force” while confronting protesters.

Reporting by Amelie Baron in Port-au-Prince and David Adams in Miami; Writing by David Adams; Editing by James Dalgleish and Clarence Fernandez

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