Haiti in quandary after parliament dissolves

The Caribbean country enters political impasse as last-ditch talks for a deal to extend MPs terms failed.

    Haiti in quandary after parliament dissolves
    For weeks, opponents mounted street protests accusing the president and his family of corruption [AFP]

    Haiti's parliament has been dissolved after the failure of last-minute negotiations over a new electoral law. 

    President Michel Martelly launched last-minute negotiations, but failed to convince a group of opposition senators to approve a plan  on Tuesday to extend parliamentary terms for several months until new elections can be held.

    Haiti has not held legislative or municipal elections for three years, and the lack of a working parliament effectively leaves Martelly to rule by decree.

    On Tuesday, the United Nations "Core Group," which includes countries working closely with Haiti, such as the United States, Brazil, Canada, and the European Union, issued a statement saying it "deplores the fact that the Haitian parliament has become dysfunctional," while offering its support for Martelly.

    "In these exceptional circumstances, the 'Core Group' trusts that the Executive and all the political actors will act with responsibility and restraint," it added.

    Martelly, whose term in office runs out next year, last month tried to calm opposition critics by appointing former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul as the new prime minister, but the parliament shunned his pick and refused to ratify him.

    "I was expecting to be invited by the parliament. It did not happen, but it's not me who refused to introduce myself," Paul
    said in an interview. Now as de facto prime minister, he said he still planned to try to form a new government.

    "I've started consultations with political parties to compose my government, but the consensus is not easy to get," he said.

    For weeks, opponents to Martelly have mounted street protests in the capital accusing the president and his family of
    corruption. The demonstrations took a more aggressive turn in recent days, with some protesters calling for a civil war.

    On Sunday, with negotiations were still underway to avoid an institutional vacuum, the US Embassy in Haiti issued a statement offering its support to Martelly.

    "The US will continue to work with President Martelly and whatever legitimate Haitian government institutions remain to
    safeguard the significant gains we have achieved together since the January 12, 2010 earthquake," it said.

    In a weekend interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Paul said he had to work on securing the trust of the
    international community.

    "It's not easy because the crisis of confidence is based on a tradition of people not keeping to their word."

    The country's political divisions have led to a "chaotic atmosphere," he said in an interview at the prime minister's official residence late on Saturday as street protests continued.

    The UN Tuesday called on all parties "to organize, as soon as technically feasible, inclusive, fair, transparent and equitable elections in 2015," said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

    Haiti is scheduled to hold presidential elections at the end of the year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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