Haiti chooses interim president

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Jocelerme Privert is the current head of Haiti’s National Assembly

Haiti’s parliament has chosen an interim president a week after Michel Martelly stepped down, leaving the country without a head of state.

The new leader, Jocelerme Privert, was elected at a marathon session of the national assembly that continued into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mr Privert is the current head of the assembly.

He will serve as president for up to four months while Haiti holds a new presidential poll.

A run-off vote in January was cancelled because of violence and instability and earlier this month a man believed to be a former soldier was beaten to death by a mob during continuing anti-government protests.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is still struggling to recover from a huge earthquake in 2010.

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Riot police were out in the capital on Sunday

In a speech before he was elected, Mr Privert vowed to “foster confidence” across society, ensure stability and hold the much-delayed run-off vote “as soon as possible”.

The election will now be held on 24 April, with a new president due to be sworn in on 14 May.

The last-minute deal aims to prevent the country from plunging into an immediate power vacuum.

Speaking before he stepped down, Mr Martelly said his biggest regret was that January’s presidential election had been postponed.

Mr Martelly is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election but has thrown his weight behind Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter who won the first round of the presidential election in November.

But the result was contested by the opposition challenger, Jude Celestin.

He accused the electoral authorities of favouring Mr Moise and threatened to pull out of the run-off vote.

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Haiti has seen violent unrest over the election

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