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World

Haiti's Bickering Lawmakers Avoid Vote on Interim Leader 

President Jocerlerme Privert's 120-day term has ended but he remains president due to the inability of lawmakers to choose a replacement

In this Feb. 14, 2016, file photo, Haiti's provisional President Jocelerme Privert stands for the national anthem after delivering his speech at an installation ceremony, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, photo: AP/Dieu Nalio Chery
1 year ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s fragmented Parliament failed again Wednesday to decide what to do about the caretaker president whose term has expired but remains in office in the absence of a vote resolving the latest leadership disorder.

A joint National Assembly session adjourned after grandstanding speeches, arguments over agenda items and breaks for closed-door negotiations went on for hours. No vote was taken.

For two weeks, Haiti’s bickering senators and deputies have avoided a vote on whether to extend the mandate of acting President Jocelerme Privert or pave the way for another provisional leader. Privert’s 120-day mandate expired two weeks ago under the terms of a February accord that helped bring him to power.

Already dismal public perceptions of many Haitian politicians appear to be sinking lower amid the latest paralysis, especially as a slew of economic, health and other challenges worsen in the struggling country.

“I just wish these people could find a way to compromise and move on. It seems like there is no end to it,” said Beatrice Pantal, a hair stylist in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

In February, a majority of National Assembly members elected Privert to head a short-term provisional government amid suspended elections that have left the presidency vacant.

Electoral officials recently announced that a new presidential election will be held in October with safeguards to avoid the fraud that marred last year’s voting.

Besides their opposition to Privert, various opposition candidates blocking a parliamentary vote are also fighting to ensure they don’t lose their seats. A verification commission that called for a redo of last year’s presidential balloting due to significant electoral fraud also urged that a number of legislative contests be examined closely by electoral authorities.

DAVID McFADDEN

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