As a paralyzing political crisis pushed Haiti into an uncertain phase a year ago this month, a stoic President Michel Martelly assured the Haitian people and the international community that he had no interest in governing without the checks and balances of a parliament. “The only decree that I would take is one to organize elections,” Martelly said on the fifth anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake as the terms of the entire lower house and a second tier of the 30-member Senate expired because of overdue legislative elections. Now as Haiti prepares to mark another quake anniversary, it is also preparing to welcome back a functioning Senate and lower house after 14 new Senators and 92 Deputies were elected in the much-criticized Aug. 9 and Oct. 25 elections.
While in theory Martelly’s one-man rule should be curbed, observers and critics say much will depend on the configuration of each of the chambers where no one political party enjoys a majority.
“The question is will the elected parliamentarians take their responsibility and pass laws, ratify accords and people who were put in posts, and put in place institutions that they are supposed to?” said Jocelerme Privert, one of only 10 senators left when parliament dissolved, who is today running to head the Senate. “The fact that parliament was dysfunctional created a void that allowed the executive and the government to take actions outside of the constitution.”
“The constitution doesn’t give the president the power to take decrees. Every decree President Martelly has taken is illegal,” he added.