Haiti’s fragmented Parliament failed again Wednesday to decide what to do about the caretaker president whose term has expired but remains in office in the absence of a vote resolving the latest leadership disorder. A joint National Assembly session adjourned after grandstanding speeches, arguments over agenda items and breaks for closed-door negotiations went on for hours. No vote was taken. For two weeks, Haiti’s bickering senators and deputies have avoided a vote on whether to extend the mandate of acting President Jocelerme Privert or pave the way for another provisional leader. Privert’s 120-day mandate expired two weeks ago under the terms of a February accord that helped bring him to power.
The U.S. State Department’s special coordinator for Haiti said Thursday that he recognizes Jocelerme Privert as the troubled country’s interim president for now as the divided Parliament is avoiding a vote on potentially extending his expired mandate. In a phone call with reporters, Kenneth Merten was asked by The Associated Press if the U.S. still recognized Privert as Haiti’s provisional leader even though his 120-day mandate ended midnight Tuesday under the terms of a negotiated accord that brought him to power. While emphasizing that Privert’s fate was up to Haiti’s National Assembly to decide, Merten responded: “I would have to say I would recognize him as the interim president of Haiti” at this time. He stressed that Haitian electoral authorities should “act soon to clarify” who the country’s provisional leader is. “We really want the National Assembly to take the action they need to take to clear the subject up,” Merten said.
Haiti entered into another leaderless drift Wednesday as the provisional president’s 120-day mandate came to a close amid backroom negotiations, posturing and delays by the deeply polarized country’s political class. Lawmakers were expected to decide whether to extend caretaker President Jocelerme Privert’s term until new elections can be held or pave the way for new interim leader. But a National Assembly session failed to take place Tuesday, when Privert’s tenure expired under the deadline of a February accord that helped put him in power. Cholzer Chancy, the acting leader of the National Assembly, on Wednesday demanded that senators and deputies return to Parliament to vote. But a session failed to materialize for a second straight day. “We are 92 deputies and 22 senators. Why can’t we come in and decide how we will continue to govern the country?” Chancy told a local radio station.
Lawmakers chose the Senate chief on Sunday to lead a caretaker government that will fill the void left by the end of President Michel Martelly’s term last week and perhaps ease tensions that suspended elections and pushed deeply polarized Haiti into political crisis. In the early hours of Sunday, Jocelerme Privert was elected as provisional president…
Protesting Haitians should end weeks of sometimes violent street marches and join a dialogue to create a transitional government, Prime Minister Evans Paul said on Monday, during his first day as the temporary head of the troubled Caribbean nation. Paul was prime minister under former President Michel Martelly, who left office on Sunday without an elected successor after a botched election saw a second round of voting cancelled due to the protests. Under an 11th-hour agreement at the weekend, Paul will stay in office until parliament chooses an interim president. “We should demand peace and dialogue. That is the only weapon that we should use, it is dialogue,” Paul told Reuters.
In Haiti, it has too often been the case that what can go wrong does go wrong. That’s why it’s such a relief that Haitian leaders, with a critical assist from the Organization of American States, were able to agree on an 11th-hour deal, just before President Michel Martelly was to leave office Sunday with no successor in place, to avert a power vacuum. It’s also why there remains cause for concern, and the pressing need for international vigilance, as the impoverished Caribbean nation embarks on what is likely to be a volatile interregnum under the auspices of a caretaker government. Under the agreement struck Saturday, on the eve of the expiration of Mr. Martelly’s term, Prime Minister Evans Paul will remain in office until Haiti’s parliament selects a new president. That’s expected to take place in the next few days. Once it does, the accord calls for a new prime minister to be chosen by consensus and for a verification commission to review October’s botched elections. It was those elections that yielded weeks of escalating protests and violence, culminating in the cancellation of a scheduled presidential runoff vote last month.
Top Haitian leaders negotiated an agreement to install a short-term provisional government less than 24 hours before President Michel Martelly was scheduled to step down, an official with the Organization of American States and local authorities announced Saturday. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, special OAS mission leader Ronald Sanders said the interim president will be elected by Parliament for a term of up to 120 days. He said Prime Minister Evans Paul will remain in his position until lawmakers are able to confirm a prime minister by consensus in upcoming days. The caretaker government will ensure a new Provisional Electoral Council is in place to conclude an election cycle that began last year. The plan calls for a presidential and legislative runoff to be held on April 24, with a newly elected president to be installed on May 14 for a five-year term. “The country now has an opportunity for a fresh start,” Sanders said, adding that Parliament would invite nominations for an interim president soon.