Haiti

U.N. Security Council heading to Haiti to press for elections

Franck Francois (striped shirt) voices his opposition to the government of Michel Martelly in downtown Port au Prince, Haiti on Saturday December 13, 2014. As Haiti approaches the fifth anniversary of its devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, growing discontent among Haiti's poor, black masses is growing increasing anti-government demonstrations and calls for President Michel J. Martelly to step down.
Franck Francois (striped shirt) voices his opposition to the government of Michel Martelly in downtown Port au Prince, Haiti on Saturday December 13, 2014. As Haiti approaches the fifth anniversary of its devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, growing discontent among Haiti's poor, black masses is growing increasing anti-government demonstrations and calls for President Michel J. Martelly to step down. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The U.N. Security Council is heading to Haiti this month with a message for President Michel Martelly: It’s past time to urgently organize credible elections.

Chile U.N. Ambassador Cristian Barros Melet, the current council president, told reporters Monday that elections must take place “in order to normalize the legislative process and the presidential process.”

Haiti faces an uncertain political future in the upcoming days with the terms of most members of parliament expiring on Monday, exactly five years after a devastating earthquake struck the nation of 10 million people. If a political deal isn’t reached in the next week, Martelly will rule by decree.

Last week, Martelly signed a political accord with the leaders of both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies and the head of the Supreme Court. The tentative political agreement extends the terms of parliamentarians on the condition that they vote on an electoral law to allow elections to take place.

Several opposition party leaders have spoken out against the agreement, saying it worsens the political crisis. Six senators who have been blocking the vote that would lead to an electoral law have said they will vote for the law to allow elections to be held, but only if Martelly first names the new members of the provisional electoral council charged with staging the elections. They have accused Martelly of trying to control the outcome of the elections through the council.

On Monday, as the opposition announced three days of intense protests this week to demand Martelly’s resignation, some lawmakers spoke out against his second attempt to install former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul as prime minister without a vote by parliament. Paul was tapped by Martelly to replace Laurent Lamothe, who was forced to resign last month amid domestic and international pressure. Upset by the move, which was canceled, several senators refused to provide a quorum Monday for a special session of parliament, requiring Martelly to reschedule it for Wednesday.

During the Security Council’s Jan. 23-25 visit, Barros Melet said the unanimous message from the 15 members will be that “the priority of the president of Haiti should be to develop a credible electoral timetable — a timetable that is also feasible and can be implemented.”

Elections for one-tier of the Senate were supposed to take place in 2009, and Martelly’s administration was supposed to hold elections in October 2014 for a second-tier of the 30-member Senate and 140 municipal positions. Elections for all 99 seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies are also due. He has blamed legislators for blocking the electoral-law vote.

If he rules by decree, Martelly, who is to leave office in 2016, could sign a decree allowing Haiti to hold elections in the first half of the year.

Barros Melet said the council will also be visiting the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, which is being reduced from its current strength, which at the start of November stood at nearly 5,000 troops and 2,300 police.

Miami Herald Caribbean Correspondent Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report from Miami.

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