Published On: Tue, Aug 26th, 2014

Haiti’s recalcitrant senators pressured by colleagues to pass electoral law

DOMINICAN REP-HAITI-CITIZENSHIPPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti- A growing number of Haitian senators have undertaken to pressure recalcitrant opposition colleagues who have been blocking the holding of a crucial legislative and local ballot, as a political tactic to create a stalemate they hope will help them overthrow the Caribbean country's leadership.

The president of Haiti's senate, Dieuseul Simon Desras, and more than a dozen other senators have repeatedly called on a handful of six extremist colleagues to renounce their "evil strategy" consisting in boycotting sessions, preventing at the same time the senate from reaching the quorum required to hold a session.

"I am sorry to admit it, but it is true that there are senators within the group of the six senators who are extremists and I call on them to put the interests of the country higher than their own particular interests," Desras, who once supported the so-called Group of Six, told HCNN over the weekend.

"These hardliners in the senate need to understand that sometimes they have to give up a minimum to keep the essential," Desras said.

Only two thirds of the 30-member Haitian senate remained in office following the end of the term of ten senators over two years ago.

Ten additional senators are scheduled to leave office in January next year, when only the remaining ten members will then make up the senate assembly, which will automatically become dysfunctional, since a quorum of 16 senators is required to hold a session.

The senate has come under intense pressure -- from Haitian President Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, representatives of the international community and other political sectors -- to pass amendments to an electoral law to facilitate the holding, by the end of the year, of a ballot to renew two-thirds of the senate, the entire Lower Chamber and hundreds of local government entities.

The Chamber of Deputies has already passed the bill which has been blocked at the senate for over four months now, because of the attitude of the six hardliners. One of the six has, in the meantime, abandoned the group, according to sources close to the senate.

"These extremist senators care only about their small, personal and partisan interests to the detriment of the interests of the country," said senate vice-president Andrice Riché, from the moderate People's Struggle opposition party.

"And this is very sad to watch. These colleagues only want to foil the electoral process which is key in avoiding a situation no true sons or daughters of this country would want to witness," Riché told HCNN.

However, members of the group of the recalcitrant senators argue that the criteria to choose members of the electoral council, tasked with organizing the ballot, did not meet constitutional requirements.

Others of the same opposition group, such as Jean-Charles Moise, demand the early departure of Martelly and Lamothe as they promote the holding of general elections by the end of 2015.

"We cannot help pass a law to support the holding of elections while Martelly and Lamothe are still in power," said Moise.

"They have to leave power so that we may have general elections at the end of 2015," added Moise, a fierce opponent of the Martelly administration.

Martelly took office in 2011 and is serving a five-year-term.

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