A new nine member Provisional Electoral Council in Haiti is expected to be announced within the next 48 hours, an adviser to President Michel Martelly said Wednesday, clearing the way for a possible solution to the country’s deepening crisis.
Also Wednesday, another stumbling block was removed: Haitian Supreme Court Judge Arnel Alexis Joseph resigned, said an adviser who asked for anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak on the matter.
Joseph’s resignation came at the end of renewed talks between Martelly and opposition parties, and key senators. The Haitian Senate still must vote an electoral law for elections to be held.
Joseph’s resignation and a new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) were among a list of far-reaching recommendations issued last month by a presidential commission that also asked for the resignation of then-Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to calm rising political tensions.
For three years, Martelly and the opposition have been at loggerheads over long-overdue municipal and legislative elections, each side accusing the other of not wanting the vote. The impasse has triggered growing discontent, spreading and sometimes violent protests and appeals from some in the opposition for Martelly to resign.
In recent days, the international community and Haiti’s opposition parties have stepped up efforts to stave off a possible one-man rule by Martelly beginning at midnight Monday when the terms of most members of parliament expire. The day is coincidentally the fifth anniversary of Haiti’s tragic Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.
On Christmas Day, the National Palace announced that Martelly had tapped former Port-au-Prince Mayor and political party leader Evans Paul to replace Lamothe and head a consensus government. But opposition parties and senators balked at the announcement, saying they were left out of the decision. The crisis was further accentuated when days later, Martelly signed a political accord with the leaders of both chambers of parliament and Joseph, who unlike Lamothe and the CEP members, had not yet resigned.
Sen. Steven Benoit said Alexis’ resignation isn’t enough. “There are still three illegal judges on the Supreme Court,” he said.
On Wednesday, Sandra Honoré, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Haiti and members of the Core Group, urged those on all political sides to resolve their differences.