PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) – The Electoral Council has released a schedule that will allow voters to elect a new legislative assembly as well as the first round of the presidential election.
The nine-member Electoral Council, tasked with organizing a series of elections this year, said the first round for electing 20 senators and the entire Lower Chamber will take place in July.
The second round of the legislative elections would be held at the same time as the first round of the presidential election on October 25, while the runoff for the presidential voting would be organized in January 2016.
“We are very pleased to communicate this calendar which has been the object of deep reflection on the part of the council,” said Yolette Mengual, a member of the Electoral Council, adding “we are working very actively to organize free, fair, transparent, democratic and inclusive elections in Haiti”.
President Michel Martelly has been ruling by decree since January 12 this year after the terms of all 99 deputies in the lower house and 10 of the country’s senators expired.
Under Haiti’s 1987 Constitution, deputies serve four-year terms, the duration of a parliament, and senators serve six-year terms on a staggered schedule.
There have been no parliamentary elections in the country since 2010. Elections were originally scheduled for October last year, but disagreement with opposition politicians meant that the polls were not held during the constitutional timeframe
The schedule proposed by the Electoral Council won’t be official until it is published by presidential executive order.
The Electoral Council president Pierre-Louis Opont, said that the electoral process will be launched in March and that several missions will be sent throughout the country to assess and make functional the regional electoral bureaus.
Opont told reporters that the proposed schedule and a draft electoral decree, have been sent to the political parties for comment, before being submitted on Friday to President Martelly.
The announcement of the electoral schedule follows a two-street protest by anti-government supporters over fuel prices and the resignation of Martelly.
“The successful two-day strike was a referendum that proves that the current administration has no legitimacy to continue to govern the country,” said Turneb Delpe, a spokesman for the opposition groups.
“After the street demonstrations and the successful two-day strike, we call on president Martelly to resign in order to avoid a more catastrophic situation to the country,” Delpe stated.
However, Lucien Jura, the spokesman for President Martelly said the opposition groups had held the population hostage.
“We cannot speak about successful strike when you threaten people and force them to stay home when you create an atmosphere of terror, block roads with barricades, set vehicles on fire, throw rocks at people who wish to go about their businesses,” Jura said.