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Haiti president offers to open government to opponents
Published on February 14, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI, (HCNN) -- Haitian President Michel Martelly offered on Wednesday to open his government to opponents who have been involved in political talks on ways to hold credible elections, but the Caribbean country's leader rejected calls to fire his prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, whom he believes is doing a great job.

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President Michel Martelly
Political actors participating in the two-week long discussions told HCNN on Wednesday that Martelly has offered to welcome representatives of opposition parties to the government in a move to ease the political atmosphere as the country prepares to hold crucial legislative and local elections this year.

"President Martelly has offered to integrate opposition parties into the government, because he wants to show openness," Rudy Herivaux, the leader of the opposition Confidence party, told HCNN on Wednesday.

"And this is a good thing," said Herivaux.

However, a smaller group of opposition parties declined the offer to become part of the government, arguing that they only want to come to power through elections.

"President Martelly showed openness and flexibility in the discussions, and there are parties that want to integrate the government," said Sauveur Pierre-Etienne, the leader of the People's Struggle Party (OPL).

"But we are not interested in participating in the government because we want to remain an opposition party and we only want to come to power through credible elections," Pierre-Etienne told HCNN.

During the discussions, government and legislative authorities along with representatives of a wide range of political parties have reached a consensus on the opportunity to organize one combined ballot to elect two thirds of the 30-member senate assembly and to renew the whole lower chamber and local government entities.

Major party abandons talks

A major opposition party, led by former president Jean Bertrand Aristide, has decided to walk away from the discussions that were being held at a luxurious hotel in the upscale Petion-Ville suburb in the metropolitan area of the capital Port-au-Prince.

Aristide's Lavalas Family party claimed that Martelly was not making enough concessions to inspire confidence in the electoral process for the party as they are suspicious of the electoral council.

A spokesperson for the party, Maryse Narcisse, said the openness offered by Martelly, who agreed to integrate opposition parties in the current government, was far from being enough. She wants the entire government, including Lamothe, to be fired or to step down.

"The whole government should leave because we don't think we can have good elections under the leadership of the current government," Narcisse told HCNN as she walked out the meeting room on Wednesday.

"The electoral council does not inspire confidence either. All that should change before we can hope for the organization of credible elections," she said.

Martelly seems to have ruled out any possibility of firing his prime minister, whom he has repeatedly praised for his accomplishments in very difficult situations.

Several dozen political parties took part in the discussions that continued late on Wednesday on remaining issues, such as possible modifications in the composition of the current electoral council and the opportunity or not to amend the constitution.
 
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