Haitian envoy to U.S. calls for international support to resolve crisis

FILE PHOTO: Haiti's President Moise speaks during the investiture ceremony of the independent advisory committee for the drafting of the new constitution at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Haiti's ambassador to the United States on Thursday called for the international community to support talks between President Jovenel Moise's government and the opposition as a constitutional crisis escalates, but rejected calls for Moise to leave office.

Political turmoil has engulfed the volatile Caribbean nation amid a dispute between Moise's administration and the opposition over when the president's term is supposed to end.

Ambassador Bocchit Edmond told reporters he did not think there should be a situation where Moise leaves office before February 2022, when he said his term expires.

"I believe the international community, our international partners, should work with us and with the opposition parties to make sure that we come to some kind of dialogue or political agreement, so we can have a better way to move forward," Edmond said.

"We do have a legitimate president. The international community has to support him, accompany him, so we can carry out the electoral process," he added.

Haiti's opposition claims Moise should step down as his five-year term in office expired on Feb. 7 following 2015 elections, which were disputed and the result canceled by the electoral council.

Moise rejects those claims, arguing he took power in February 2017 after winning fresh elections in 2016 and has pledged to step down next year.

Washington last week appeared to back Moise's timeline, with a State Department spokesperson saying a new leader should replace Moise in February 2022.

Tensions flared over the weekend after Moise alleged there was an attempt to overthrow the government and 23 people were arrested, including a Supreme Court judge and a senior police official.

The United States said on Tuesday it was "deeply concerned" about Haiti's fragile institutions, although it stopped short of chastising Moise after his government retired three Supreme Court judges who posed a threat to his leadership.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Sam Holmes)