Martelly reaches agreement with heads of parliament to end Haiti political impasse


Haiti president, Michel Martelly. (Credit: Flickr/Creative Commons)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Tuesday December 30, 2014, CMC – President Michel Martelly may have averted a political crisis in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country after reaching a tentative agreement with the heads of the two houses of Parliament.

The accord, announced late on Monday may result in approval of a “consensus” government that could include Evans Paul, the president’s new choice for prime minister to replace Laurent Lamothe, who resigned earlier this month.

The agreement would also extend the terms of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, due to run out on January 12, next year, but only if an electoral law is passed first.

In recent weeks, Martelly has been meeting with several social and political groups in a bid to pave the way for the holding of the long-delayed election to renew two thirds of the 30-member Senate, the entire Lower Chamber and hundreds of local government bodies.

Out of the 30 senate members, only 20 remain in office, and amendments to an existing electoral law are required to facilitate the vote.

But six opposition legislators have consistently refused to attend the meetings of the Senate preventing the body from getting the required 16-member quorum needed to hold a session.

Political observers note that by January 12, next year, the Haitian parliament will become dysfunctional with only 10 senators left, while 16 is required to hold a session. The observers note that failure to elect the new Senators could result in President Martelly ruling by decree.

The new agreement reached would extend the terms of the deputies until April 24 next year and senators until September 9.

Political observers sat the new agreement is likely to be favorably received by Haiti’s foreign donors, particularly the United States and the United Nations, who had expressed concern that the impoverished Caribbean nation was on the brink of political chaos again.

“This is a good step taken towards the resolution of the crisis,” Paul told reporters, saying elections could be held within 120 days of a new electoral council being installed.

Lamothe was forced to resign after several weeks of protests led by opposition politicians.

President Martelly accepted the resignation after the 11-member Presidential Commission he appointed to help him deal with Haiti’s worsening political crisis recommended Lamothe’s removal.

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