Haitian opposition parties named a top judge as interim leader overnight Sunday, the latest attempt to oust President Jovenel Moise, whose term they say has expired.
In a video statement sent to AFP, Judge Joseph Mecene Jean-Louis, 72, said he “accepted the choice of the opposition and civil society, to serve (his) country as interim president for the transition.”
Moise has been governing without any checks on his power for the past year and says he remains president until February 7, 2022 — an interpretation of the constitution rejected by the opposition, which has led to protests asserting his term has ended.
The political crisis intensified on Sunday, when authorities said they had foiled an attempt to murder Moise and overthrow the government.
But the opposition said Moise could not claim to have suffered a coup attempt because his presidential term had expired.
“We are waiting for Jovenel Moise to leave the National Palace (the president’s official residence) so that we can get on with installing Mr Mecene Jean-Louis,” opposition figure Andre Michel told AFP.
Former senator Youri Latortue said overnight Sunday that the transition period was expected to last around 24 months.
“There’s a two-year roadmap laid out, with the establishing of a national conference, the setting out of a new constitution and the holding of elections,” he said.
The dispute over when the president’s term ends stems from Moise’s original election: he was voted into office in a poll subsequently canceled after allegations of fraud, and then elected again a year later, in 2016.
After that poll was also disputed, demonstrations demanding his resignation intensified in the summer of 2018.
Voting to elect deputies, senators, mayors and local officials should have been held in 2018, but the elections have been delayed, triggering the vacuum in which Moise says he is entitled to stay for another year.