Haitian Congress Misses Midnight Deadline to End Political Deadlock

EspañolDespite a last-minute effort late on Sunday, January 11, to put an end to the political crisis in Haiti, the door has been opened for President Michel Martelly to rule by decree.

Lawmakers failed to pass a new electoral allow that would extend their terms in office and thus allow the Parliament to continue working. At midnight, all 99 deputies and 10 of the 30 senators lost their mandates, and Haiti’s Parliament is now without a quorum, said opposition Senator Westner Polycarpe.

The Haitian president announced on Sunday that an agreement to hold elections before the end of 2015 had been reached, but the opposition party Fanmi Lavalas refused the deal.

Parliamentary elections have not been held in Haiti since 2011. The administration blames the opposition for blocking legislation needed to hold the next election, while the opposition has accused President Martelly of attempting to rig the next election and effectively appoint his supporters to important positions.

“The fight is really about having a fair process, one not unduly influenced by the executive branch,” Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, told VICE News. “Martelly has never said he will rule without any oversight. Instead he proposes some way of going towards elections that falls short of constitutional requirements.”

In November 2014, Martelly pledged to call elections should he be forced to rule by decree due to the political impasse.

In recent days, hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Port Au-Prince to demonstrate their contempt for Martelly. Over the weekend, protesters demanding Martelly’s resignation clashed with anti-riot police forces, who deployed a water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Sources: Bloomberg, BBC.

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