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A SPECIAL SECTION: Haiti, Since the January 12, 2010 Fierce Earthquake

Posted Monday, February 7, 2011 

Haiti’s President to Stay Three Months Past Term


MEXICO CITY — President René Préval of Haiti said Monday that he would stay in office for three more months, extending his term until after a March 20 runoff to choose his successor.


Mr. Préval’s term had been scheduled to end Monday, but an emergency law passed after last’s year’s devastating earthquake allowed him to stay longer because his 2006 inauguration was delayed. His chief of staff, Fritz Longchamp, told The Associated Press that Mr. Préval would leave on May 14, which would most likely be enough time for the next president to take over.

Mr. Préval’s decision was largely expected by Haitians and the international community, in part because it is unclear who would take his place. The Haitian Constitution states that the highest-ranking member of the country’s top court would be second in line, but the court’s presidency is currently vacant.

José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, which has been working closely with Haitian election officials, said that forming a transitional government for such a short period of time could lead to more difficulties for a country already struggling to create a peaceful transition of power.

“I would feel more comfortable with the president staying,” he said.

Mirlande Manigat, a constitutional scholar and one of the contenders to become Haiti’s next president, has said that she supports leaving Mr. Préval in power until after the runoff.

Nonetheless, news of his decision to stay led to several small protests in downtown Port-au-Prince, the capital, on Monday morning. Photographs and video posted on Twitter showed tires being burned, dumpsters being overturned and United Nations troops guarding the capital’s destroyed presidential palace.

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