Haiti’s barrier to the holding of crucial overdue elections has now been lifted with the end of the term of the legislature, opening the possibility for the Caribbean country’s leader to issue a decree to facilitate the organization of the ballot which has long been blocked by recalcitrant opposition Senators.
Haitian President Michel Martelly is expected to issue an executive order to facilitate the holding of elections to renew two-thirds of the 30-member Senate and the entire lower chamber within the next few months, which will allow Parliament to be functional again.
Martelly said he has no plans to abuse his power to rule by decree in the absence of the legislature, whose constitutional term expired on Monday, while assuring that he would take an executive order only when it is absolutely necessary, such as a decree to declare elections.
“My plan is not really to rule by decree but one decree that I will issue is to declare elections, which is absolutely necessary,” Martelly told HCNN on Tuesday.
Martelly’s constitutional term expires in February 2016 and the country will also hold a presidential ballot by October this year to elect his successor.
Now, only 10 out of 30 senators remain in office and they cannot hold any session because a quorum of at least 16 senators is required, which means they will not be able to make any decision.
Martelly’s critics have blamed him for failing to take the necessary measures to hold elections in time to avoid the dysfunction of Parliament, while others cast the blame of Parliament’s caducity on recalcitrant opposition senators who have been blocking Parliament, since April last year, from passing the legislation needed to facilitate the ballot.
Lawmakers had until midnight on Sunday to meet and pass the legislation in which they were allowed to extend their term until April, for the members of the Lower Chamber (Chamber of Deputies), and until September for Senators.
However, a significant number of senators boycotted a joint session on Sunday, which would have opened the way for such an outcome, before the official end of their term, on January 12.
In the meantime, several opposition parties joined Martelly in signing an agreement to aid the electoral process, which has been stalled because of a lack of political will on the part of several sectors and actors.
Martelly, the newly-appointed prime minister, Evans Paul, and political adversaries continue with political talks to smooth the progress of efforts to form a consensus government to replace the resigning cabinet of former prime minister Laurent Lamothe, in a move to ease the general political atmosphere, as preparations for the balloting progress.