Haitian leaders look for way out of political impasse

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haitian President Michel Martelly would step down on schedule in two weeks, an interim government would take over and a runoff vote would be held within months.

See Full Article

These are the contours of a potential solution to Haiti's political crisis that was beginning to emerge Monday, according to officials taking part in the discussions. The crisis follows the indefinite postponement of elections, which has generated fears of backsliding into instability.

Haitian political leaders and others with influence have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss a way out of the impasse. There were no official announcements, but officials said they were working toward a mediated solution following a surge of violent protests and a looming constitutional crisis.

"We know we have to work fast because we have a very short time to resolve this crisis," said Senate President Jocelerme Privert, an opposition lawmaker who is a central figure in the talks. "If Haiti needs anything it is political stability."

Haiti had been scheduled to hold the runoff vote Sunday. But on Friday, the electoral council cancelled it, for a second time, amid protests and suspicion that the first round was marred by massive fraud favouring Martelly's chosen candidate, Jovenel Moise.

The second-place presidential candidate, Jude Celestin, rejected the first-round results as a "farce" and alleged vote-rigging by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council. Martelly, who cannot run for a second consecutive term, is required under the Constitution to leave office by Feb. 7.

For now, a number of proposals are being discussed in negotiations being held in Haiti's National Palace and elsewhere. Privert said that Martelly has told him in several recent meetings that that he would step down on schedule early next month.

The Senate president cautioned that negotiations were far from settled. But he said consensus could be building for a plan that calls for an interim government to take power on Feb. 7. New elections would be held as soon as possible so a newly elected leader could take office, perhaps this spring.

Others with knowledge of the discussions agreed with his description of the current proposals. One Martelly ally with knowledge of the talks said the president wants the interim government to hold power for the minimum time necessary, just long enough to organize a new election. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the negotiations.

There's growing concern in some quarters that an inability to forge a deal might roll back a decade of relative political stability and scare off foreign investment in the hemisphere's poorest nation.

"This situation is very worrying because reaching consensus is not going to be easy, knowing Haiti's political actors," said Rosny Desroches, a member of a special electoral commission that had unsuccessfully pushed for a political dialogue to ease electoral tensions.

While Martelly meets with legislative leaders, the "Group of Eight" opposition alliance, led by Celestin, asserts that Haiti's new Parliament was installed illegally and can't provide solutions.

Political compromise is a rare thing in Haiti, where elections and power transitions are often accompanied by violence and disorder. In a report on Haiti last year, the World Bank said many observers agree that "Haitians perceive political and economic disputes as a zero sum game with only winners and losers, each with very long memories."

Oposition-stoked protests have steadily ramped up the tension in Haiti's capital with window-smashing and burning street barricades. Outside the capital, schools serving as election offices were targeted by arsonists before weekend elections were called off.

Some opposition militants and pro-government figures are fanning the flames. Senate candidate Guy Phillippe, an ex-paramilitary who helped lead an uprising against then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and campaigned with ruling party presidential Moise this election cycle, called on supporters in his remote enclave in southwestern Haiti to "defend" against opposition "anarchists."

Before the elections were postponed last week, anti-government demonstrators marched through Port-au-Prince chanting: "If they give us Jovenel, we'd rather die."

"There are political players who don't care if they break the country to gain power," said businessman Christopher Handal, who has participated in recent negotiations as president of Haiti's Chamber of Commerce.

While Haiti has a number of loud partisans, most Haitians have no interest in stirring up political conflict and don't vote.

The Senate president and other officials vowed Monday that authorities were working hard to forge a deal.

"I believe in the future of my country. I believe in my colleagues. And I have faith that the citizens of my country will not allow Haiti to fall into chaos," Privert said before departing for his next round of negotiations.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Orlando releases new photos of Pulse nightclub after attack

    World News CTV News
    ORLANDO, Fla. -- New photos released by the city of Orlando show where officers breached one of Pulse nightclub's walls to free people trapped inside during the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The photos released Tuesday show large punctures to an exterior cinderblock wall of the nightclub. Source
  • Conservative leadership hopefuls: Linguistic winners, losers in French debate

    Canada News CBC News
    With only two francophones in the running to be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, establishing verbal credibility during the French Language debate in Quebec City Tuesday night for the rest of the field was always going to be a scramble to avoid last place. Source
  • South Korea court begins reviewing arrest of Samsung heir

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, South Korea -- A South Korean court has begun reviewing the arrest of a Samsung Electronics vice chairman who faces allegations of bribery, embezzlement and perjury. Lee Jae-yong, the only son of the Samsung chairman, has arrived Wednesday for the hearing at the Seoul Central District Court but said nothing to the huge media gathering awaiting him outside the court. Source
  • Chinese coal mine caves in, killing 9

    World News Toronto Sun
    BEIJING — The partial collapse of a coal mine in northern China has left nine people dead, state media reported Wednesday, reflecting the stubborn persistence of safety problems despite years-long efforts to reduce deaths in the sprawling sector. Source
  • 4 dead in new shooting in Mexico resort region

    World News CTV News
    CANCUN, Mexico -- Gunmen attacked the state prosecutors' office in this Caribbean resort city Tuesday, and authorities said four people were killed, ratcheting up tensions just a day after a shooting at a music festival in a nearby town left three foreigners and two Mexicans dead. Source
  • With mercy for Manning, attention turns to WikiLeaks head

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s decision Tuesday to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence brought fresh attention to another figure involved in the Army leaker’s case: Julian Assange. On Twitter last week, Assange’s anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks posted, “If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case. Source
  • NY scalper struggles to sell Trump inauguration tickets

    World News CTV News
    With three days to go before billionaire businessman Donald Trump becomes America’s 45th president, a New York ticket scalper is getting nervous he won’t sell a pricey pair of tickets before the inauguration. Yossi Rosenberg, a business development manager who reportedly voted for Hillary Clinton, bought the two tickets off Craigslist for $700. Source
  • Is Mexico getting more dangerous for Canadian tourists?

    World News CBC News
    The deaths of five people, including a Canadian man, in Monday's nightclub shooting in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, are tragic — but that doesn't mean it's more dangerous for people to travel to the popular resort area, security experts say. Source
  • Trio of young cougars euthanized in Penticton, B.C.

    Canada News CBC News
    Three young cougars in Penticton, B.C. were euthanized Tuesday after it was discovered their habituated mother had been teaching them to hunt in urban areas. The mother, who officials say shows little to no fear of people, is still on the loose. Source
  • Fugitive wanted in Orlando officer’s fatal shooting captured: Cops

    World News Toronto Sun
    ORLANDO, Fla. — Police say a man wanted in the fatal shootings of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police sergeant has been captured. The Orlando Police Department tweeted Tuesday night that 41-year-old Markeith Loyd is in custody. Source