By Joe Colas
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — Haiti’s president, Michel Martelly, has initiated a series of meetings with political leaders to discuss conflicting issues regarding the holding of an upcoming partial legislative ballot, among other matters of national interest for the Caribbean country.
A spokesman for Martelly, Lucien Jura, said the series of discussions was part of a dialogue to facilitate the reaching of a consensus on a number of national issues and to integrate other political actors in the search of solutions that protect collective interests.
“President Martelly has initiated a dialogue that could allow political actors to participate in the search of solutions to the problems facing the country,” Jura told HCNN on Thursday.
Martelly met on Wednesday former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who heads one of Haiti’s largest political grouping, the Lavalas Family party. Several other political leaders have received visits from the president at their headquarters.
Martelly has been the subject of intense criticism from opponents who accuse him of not having the political will to hold elections, within the constitutional deadline, to provide for the renewal of one-third of the 30-member senate assembly.
Martelly’s critics say the Haitian leader has a plan to dissolve Parliament or to render it dysfunctional by pronouncing the end of the office term of ten senators in January 2014, based on a 2008 law, which also provided for timely elections to replace outgoing lawmakers.
A political advisor to the president, Joseph Lambert, rejected allegations that Martelly lacks political will to hold free and fair elections before the end of the year and dismissed any alleged plan to dissolve Parliament.
“There is a law, still in force, that says specifically that the office term of 10 of the senators will come to an end on the second Monday of January 2014,” Lambert told HCNN.
“President Martelly may have to apply the terms of the 2008 law that was passed by Parliament” said Lambert.
Lambert said Martelly, almost a year ago now, had tried his best to set up a permanent electoral council, as provided by the constitution, to facilitate the holding of the elections in time to allow the orderly renewal of part of the senate assembly.
“However, opponents of the government in Parliament and elsewhere had opposed the initiative of President Martelly,” stated Lambert reiterating Martelly’s will to facilitate the organization of good elections.
Lambert called on all political actors to engage in genuine discussions with Martelly in order to find a modus operandi to advance to higher cause of the collectivity.
An electoral panel was sworn in on April 19 with the mission to organize elections to renew one third of the 30-member Senate, which has been functioning with an assembly of 20 senators because elections were not held in time to fill in 10 vacant seats.
If the ballot does not take place by the end of the year, the senate assembly will be left with only 10 members by January 2014, given the fact that the term of 10 additional senators will, by law, come to an end by the beginning of next year.
With two thirds of the senate assembly missing, the legislative body would become dysfunctional, given that the needed quorum to hold a session is 16 senators.