Residents hold signs of presidential candidate Jovenel Moise as they look at a demonstration by PHTK political party to demand for the organization of a postponed presidential runoff election in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, April 14, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares(reuters_tickers)
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti will not meet a deadline to complete its presidential election by April 24, the top election official said on Thursday, without giving a new date to hold the already delayed vote in the impoverished Caribbean country.
The election was postponed in January after sometimes violent protests over allegations of fraud in the first round. An interim government has been running the country since the last president's term ended in February.
"It is clear that the elections won't take place on April 24, but we are still assessing the election machinery as we make decisions about the way forward," the head of a newly appointed electoral council, Leopold Berlanger, told Reuters.
He said the delay, which comes after political battles over the formation of the interim government, meant that temporary President Jocelerme Privert would not hand over to an elected successor by May 14, as agreed in a cross-party deal to overcome the crisis.
"It is also clear that the fact that the elections won't take place this month means it is impossible to have a new elected president by May 14," Berlanger said.
The results of the first round in October put Jovenel Moise in first place and Jude Celestin in second for a runoff, but Celestin and several more of the 52 losing candidates rejected the outcome.
Before completing the process, the election council is overseeing a second evaluation of the results to test the claims of fraud and decide which candidates should take part.
Supporters of former president Michel Martelly and his favoured candidate, Moise, have protested in recent days, claiming Privert is dragging his feet so his allies can cling on to power. The protesters demand the election be held as soon as possible.
(Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)