Haiti elections by ‘next year’
NEW YORK (AP) – Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said Tuesday that his country will hold long-overdue elections no later than early next year if several opposition lawmakers don’t stand in the way of the vote before their mandates expire in January.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Lamothe said a group of six senators who have been holding Haiti “hostage” won’t be able to do so anymore once their terms end. Still, Lamothe said, he hopes the officials will approve an electoral law before then, a move that could pave the way to organize the vote that is three years late.
Lamothe has promised before that the legislative and local elections will happen before year’s end, but now the stakes are higher as the government faces mounting pressure from the United States and United Nations to organise the vote before the terms of ten senators expire in mid-January and Parliament is dissolved.
President Michel Martelly will then rule by decree.
“From January 12 on, they will not have the (green) light to block the process,” Lamothe said while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. “The president will take (responsibility) and organise the elections as soon as he can, as soon as possible.”
If the vote isn’t held before year’s end, it will happen in the first three months of next year, Lamothe said.
The elections seek to fill two thirds of the 30-member Senate, the entire 99-member Chamber of Deputies and dozens of local posts. Political infighting and foot dragging have led to the delay, which has been met with a mix of frustration and indifference.
The senators deny they’re holding up the elections and are instead defending the Haitian Constitution.
The run-up to the vote is almost certain to prove turbulent.
In recent weeks, supporters of two-time president Jean-Bertrand Aristide have organised menacing protests outside his compound in the capital as he faces a revived criminal inquiry that originates from the aftermath of his second ouster, in 2004.