Political accord in Haiti seeks to avert crisis

Dec 30, 2014, 2:51 AM EST
Anti-government protesters during a march through Port-au-Prince, on December 28, 2014, calling for Haitian President Michel Martelly's resignation. Opposition parties have organized a series of anti-government protests to demand that Martelly step down due to claims he is seeking to rule by decree after January 12, when the legislature's current mandate ends.
AFP/Getty Images

The president of Haiti and heads of the country's two houses of parliament reached a tentative agreement on Monday to avert a political crisis that has sparked nationwide protests. Reuters reports:

The political accord announced late Monday seeks to open the way for approval by parliament of a new "consensus" government after prime minister Laurent Lamothe was forced to resign earlier this month.

The agreement would extend the terms of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, due to run out Jan. 12, but only if an electoral law is passed first.

If the parliamentary terms are not extended, Haiti would be left without a functioning government heading into presidential elections in late 2015. The agreement would extend the terms of the deputies until April 24 2015 and senators until Sept. 9.

The political accord is likely to be favorably received by Haiti's foreign donors, particularly the United States and the United Nations, who had expressed concern that the impoverished Caribbean nation was on the brink of political chaos again.

It might also appease opposition politicians and protesters who have been calling for a new government and long-overdue legislative and municipal elections.

On Christmas Day, President Michel Martelly nominated Evans Paul, a moderate opposition figure, as the new prime minister. His choice must still be approved by parliament before he can start forming a government.

"This is a good step taken towards the resolution of the crisis," Paul told reporters on Monday, saying elections could be held within 120 days of a new electoral council being installed.

If approved, Paul would take over from Florence Duperval Guillaume, who was named interim prime minister on Sunday as a temporary replacement for Lamothe.