PM calls for peace on Haiti's first day with no president

Haiti's Prime Minister Evans Paul listens to Haiti's President Michel Martelly (not pictured) during an event in Port-au-Prince January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Jeanty Junior Augustin/Files

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Protesting Haitians should end weeks of sometimes violent street marches and join a dialogue to create a transitional government, Prime Minister Evans Paul said on Monday, during his first day as the temporary head of the troubled Caribbean nation. Paul was prime minister under former President Michel Martelly, who left office on Sunday without an elected successor after a botched election saw a second round of voting canceled due to the protests. Under an 11th-hour agreement at the weekend, Paul will stay in office until parliament chooses an interim president. "We should demand peace and dialogue. That is the only weapon that we should use, it is dialogue," Paul told Reuters. "We don't need to mobilize people on the streets anymore, because all the demands expressed on streets are now on the table of state institutions." Under the agreement, Paul, who made his own run for the presidency in 2006, would be succeeded by a consensus prime minister once parliament chooses a president. A presidential runoff due to be held last month was scrapped after protesters took to the streets in force and opposition candidate Jude Celestin threatened to boycott the vote over allegations that fraud in the first round favored ruling party candidate Jovenel Moise, who came first. The protests have left one person dead. A group of eight opposition leaders that includes Celestin rejected the weekend agreement, saying parliament was elected in the same tainted election and should not choose an interim administration. The group wants a Supreme Court judge to choose the next leader instead. "My fundamental role is to encourage dialogue among all sectors, including those that were not part of the agreement. Beyond the legislative and executive branches, we also need to involve the judiciary," Evans said. The agreement calls on parliament to select a president within a few days, says elections should be organized on April 24 and an elected president in place by May. However, Haiti has a conquered history with interim governments. When President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced from power in 2004, it took two years to organize fresh elections. "We all need to come together to find the best procedure to set up the temporary government that will complete the electoral process," Paul said. (Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Michael Perry)