Published On: Sat, Apr 5th, 2014

Haitian leader opens government to opponents

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haiti's leadership announced a cabinet reshuffle this week to allow opponents to enter the government in compliance with a recent historic agreement to facilitate the holding of crucial legislative and local elections and ease a crisis that threatened the Caribbean country's stability.

On Wednesday, Haitian President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe reshuffled the cabinet and allowed several representatives of moderate opposition parties to become part of the current administration at different levels, as part of the political

agreement clinched last month.

"We are doing all that depends on us to facilitate the holding of credible elections, to strengthen our democracy and the rule of law," Martelly told HCNN during a brief interview on Friday.

"The election is a sine qua non and we want to create an environment in which all those who genuinely want to bring their contribution may have a chance to do it," he said.

Martelly, representatives of Parliament and more than 50 political parties signed, on March 14, a political deal in which parties agreed to facilitate the integration of opponents in the government, the amendment of the existing electoral law, among other things.

Lamothe has also publicly committed to fulfill the responsibilities which lie with the government in compliance with the agreement which is considered historic, in the sense that it was for the first time Haitian protagonists had resolved to sit together, without any foreign or international mediation, to solve differences.

"We welcome all those who had other views but who vow to accompany us on the road toward development, social justice and stability," said Lamothe.

"We are committed to fulfilling our commitments and we are keeping our word" he stated.

Several representatives of moderate opposition parties -- such as Rudy Herivaux, who became the new communication minister; Patrick Sully Joseph appointed as minister in charge of the strengthening of political parties; and Himler Rebu as youth, sports and civic action minister – became part of Martelly’s administration.

Several other opposition members have also been appointed either as directors-general or assistant directors-general in several government institutions.
Parliament also took an important step toward facilitating the holding, on October 26, of the crucial vote to elect two-thirds of the 30-member Senate assembly, to renew the lower chamber (Chamber of Deputies) and local government entities throughout the country.

The deputies approved earlier this week the proposed amendments to the electoral law with a rare celerity, but the Senate has yet to fall into step with the lower chamber.

However, in the event that the Senate fails to approve the newly proposed amendments, the agreement provided that electoral authorities may proceed with the organization of the ballot while implementing the proposed amendments.

Representatives of some of the political parties who signed the agreement did not wish to become part of the government, saying they wish to remain in the opposition while they wait to compete in free and fair elections in order to access power.

A small group of political parties which had withdrawn, in March, from the political dialogue, including the Lavalas Family party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, did not wish to enter the cabinet either, but for other reasons.

They want a clean sweep of the current leadership as a pre-requisite to their participation to any efforts to find a consensus on elections and other issues.

By Joseph Guyler Delva

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