Haiti’s Senate on Wednesday called on the country’s Provisional Electoral Council to cease all operations for Sunday’s presidential and partial legislative runoffs. The recommendation came after three hours of debate and as concern and uncertainty continue to dog the electoral process four days before the critical vote. A coalition of local observers have announced that they won’t participate, and the private sector has signaled its strong misgivings about the holding of the second round on Sunday. Before the Senate meeting, a group of business leaders from the Haitian-American Chamber met with senators, and soon went to meet with opposition presidential candidate Jude Celestin. Joined by other business leaders, they asked Celestin whether he was willing to sign an agreement negotiated by Roman Catholic Church Cardinal Chibly Langlois that would postpone the vote until next month and a new president’s swearing-in by March 29. President Michel Martely and his hand-picked successor, candidate Jovenel Moïse, have also been presented with the same question, sources familiar with the agreement said.
The sticking point: Whether Martellly goes or stays after Feb. 7, his constitutionally mandated date to leave office. “We have to find an honorable exit for the president,” said Sen. Evalière Beauplan, the author of the resolution. “Otherwise, he is inviting a confrontation with the people.”
Beauplan said all sectors recognize that “elections won’t work on Sunday. The actors are not ready, and there is too much turbulence.”
Sen. Youri Latortue, who is among five senators who abstained in the vote that had 15 for and none against, said the resolution lacks the force of law.