Published On: Mon, Sep 1st, 2014

Haiti’s leader agrees to talks with recalcitrant senators about elections

michel_martelly6PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haiti's President Michel Martelly agreed over the weekend to engage in political talks with a handful of recalcitrant senators who have been blocking a vote to pass amendments to an existing electoral law, to facilitate the holding of crucial legislative and local elections in the Caribbean country before the end of the year.

Last week, Martelly received a letter from the president of the Haitian senate, Dieuseul Simon Desras, requesting a meeting to discuss ways to solve an impasse created by a group of six opposition senators who have put the electoral process on hold by refusing to cooperate in passing the needed electoral amendments.

A spokesman for the Haitian presidency, Lucien Jura, said Martelly would welcome, on Monday at the presidential palace, the recalcitrant senators who have been boycotting senate assembly meetings to prevent the needed legislative amendments from being adopted.

"President Martelly is ready to meet on Monday the president of the senate and the six senators who have been reluctant to help pass the amendments," Jura told the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN) on Monday.

"President Martelly wants to show his good will and his determination to do everything in his power to help move the electoral process forward," said Jura.

At first, Martelly showed reluctance to engage in the new talks with the so-called G6, following a series of political negotiations that led to an agreement, known as the El Rancho Agreement, signed by the Haitian leader, 50 political parties and representatives of the legislature.

The letter to invite the senators to the meeting was received on Friday at the senate and the senate chairman, Desras, said he had informed all the senators of the G6 about the meeting.

However, Desras, said the six senators told him they would not be able to attend the meeting on Monday. He said he has already called Martelly's office to inform the Haitian leader about the unavailability of the six senators.

Some members of the G6 blame Martelly for failing to invite hardliners of opposition parties to the meeting as requested, while others argue such a meeting should not take place at the presidential palace, but at a neutral venue.

Senator Franky Exius says his group is still willing to participate in the meeting with Martelly, but other group members say they would prefer to delegate representatives of opposition parties to attend in their place, should such a meeting take place.

The spokesman for Martelly, Jura, said the Haitian leader has a right to welcome the senators at his office and argued that Martelly had invited only the six parliamentarians because the issue lies in the fact that the senate cannot pass electoral amendments.

"Only the invited senators can help solve the problem, not the representatives of the political parties," said Jura.

Several of those opposition parties wish to force Martelly and his government, led by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, from power.

The 30-member senate has been functioning with only two thirds of its members after the end of the term of ten senators over two years ago.

The group of six senators has managed so far to foil all efforts at the senate to pass the amendments by boycotting senate meetings, blocking at the same time the body from reaching the 16-senator quorum required to hold a session.

By Joseph Guyler Delva

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