Haiti’s political future remains uncertain after new electoral law creates crisis
The parliament in Haiti has dissolved following the failure of crucial negotiations over a new electoral law. The U.S.-backed law would have extended the terms of Haiti’s members of parliament, effectively averting a political crisis by extending Deputies’ terms until April 24, enough time for the creation of an elections council.
Instead, the representatives working in the Chamber of Deputies have now faced the end of their term. President Michel Martelly (seen in the photo), whose term runs out in one year, will now rule by decree until that time.
Now Haitians will have to trust that their president will operate within reasonable boundaries. On Tuesday, the “Core Group” of the United Nations, including countries such as Canada, the United States, and Brazil issued a statement regarding the recent events. “In these exceptional circumstances, the ‘Core Group’ trusts that the Executive and all the political actors will act with responsibility and restraint.” President Martelly continues to enjoy the support of the Core Group as well as the European Union.
Haiti has not seen an election in three years due to its parliament’s inability to function as well from the constant postponing of elections. The country’s polls are nearly three years behind schedule and a municipal election for the city of Port-au-Prince has been delayed since 2012. Critics claim that Martelly has deliberately postponed an election at the national level in order to rule by decree.
Indeed, opposition protests have been widespread in the capital of Port-au-Prince for the past few months, with critics calling for the President’s resignation on grounds of corruption. Hundreds of demonstrators have clashed with police who fired tear gas and sprayed water on those involved. However, this is not the first time that Haitians have taken to the streets in protest. The early years of Martelly’s tenure saw anti-government demonstrations including those fed up with the increasing cost of living. It appears that recent events have only added to this frustration.
The president’s opposition accuses him of abusing his powers. Tensions are also high as last week saw the fifth year anniversary since the earthquake that devastated the country and destroyed much of Haiti’s infrastructure. Economic uncertainty and a relatively slow recovery following the earthquake have angered many Haitians.
Martelly, 53, has been the president of Haiti since 2011 when he won against opponent Mirlande Manigat. Prior to his tenure, Martelly was a Compas-style musician, with numerous studio albums, and a fan base stretching across the country. His legacy has since been tainted by corruption allegations amid claims that he had received millions in bribes during and immediately after the election.