“This is the last May 18 I will spend with you as president,” Preval said. Pledging to pass his office to a successor on the constitutionally mandated day, he added, “I will go and my heart will be calm.”Preval’s announcement reiterated similar statements he made last week, and followed protests by thousands of people Monday in what AP described as “the strongest showing of opposition to the Haitian leader since the quake” expressing outrage over his handling of the post-earthquake crisis and suggestions that he might extend his term. AP noted that
Many demonstrators identified themselves as supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was exiled to Africa aboard a U.S. plane during a 2004 rebellion. Protesters marched to the national mall following speaker trucks that trumpeted calls for Aristide's return.L’Agence Haitienne de Presse reported that among the protesters’ demands was for a "diplomatic passport for former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide that would allow him to return to Haiti. "
As AP reported, the protests were not isolated to Port-au-Prince, either:
Small bands of protesters were reported in other cities: the southern cities of Jacmel, Miragoane and Nippes, northwestern Gonaives and the northern port city of Cap-Haitien.In another report, AP noted the passing, on May 15, of presidential candidate Gabriel Bien-Aimé, a member of the Organisation du Peuple en Lutte (OPL), which AP describes as “one of Haiti’s more organized political parties.” OPL broke off from Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in the 1990s and embraced many of the economic reforms called for by the IMF and other Washington-based institutions.
Other groups mixed in with the protesters, including government hires in yellow T-shirts who clutched the pickaxes and shovels they use to clear some of the quake rubble in a program overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development. They were protesting the agency's decision to stop providing them with food as part of their compensation.