By Joseph Guyler C. Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) -- A new electoral law, considered as a milestone in efforts to hold crucial legislative and local elections in Haiti, was promulgated on Thursday by the Haitian government, diffusing a major political crisis which has threatened the Caribbean country's stability.
Haitian prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, called on the electoral council to take all necessary measures to organize the ballot in 2014 and promised continued financial and logistical support for the electoral body's operations.
"Haiti is a democracy and that means we should regularly organize elections to renew the political personnel," Lamothe told HCNN.
"Now, it lies with the electoral council to really launch the process and fix a date for the elections," said Lamothe, assuring that his government will continue to provide financial means.
The current electoral panel is tasked with organizing, in early 2014, an overdue ballot to renew one third of the 30-member Senate assembly, but a debate has been initiated on whether the vote should take place at the same time as scheduled elections due by the end of next year to elect 10 additional senators and all the members of the lower chamber of Parliament.
The election issue has created tensions between the Haitian government, opposition parties and Parliament leaders, particularly over the prospect that Parliament could have become dysfunctional if the new electoral law had not been approved and promulgated before January 13, 2014, which was the date set by a previous law, adopted in 2008, for the early departure of 10 of the 20 currently sitting senators.
The Senate would have not been able to continue to function, because it needs a quorum of 16 members to hold a session, but the promulgation of the new law, which abrogates the one adopted in 2008, will allow the Senate to keep all its 20 members beyond the January 13, 2014 deadline.
The president of the electoral council, Emmanuel Menard, announced a series of talks with political parties, civil society groups and other sectors to find a consensus on a schedule and different other steps towards the holding of the ballot.
"We are committed to organizing free, fair and democratic election and now that we have the electoral law, we are going to double efforts to take the process to a happy conclusion," Menard told HCNN.
"For those who were skeptical, I can give them the guarantee that the elections will be held in 2014," he said.
Several political leaders expressed satisfaction following the promulgation of the law in the official gazette of the Haitian Republic, Le Moniteur.
"I think this will help calm the situation and reduce the negativity that has surrounded the election issue," said Himler Rebu, from the Grand Gathering for the Evolution of Haiti party (GREH).
"Now, we need to sit down with the electoral council to determine modalities," he said.