In a major concession to the opposition that could end the country’s long-running electoral stalemate, Haitian President Michel Martelly has agreed to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. Other concessions recommended by a presidential commission, like the resignation of the Supreme Court president and electoral council, may soon follow.
Martelly announced that he would accept Lamothe’s removal on Friday. The Miami Herald reports that in his speech the president also said he would begin assessing the commission’s other recommendations, as well as nominating a new prime minister, on Monday (today). Lamothe himself announced his resignation yesterday, alongside other cabinet ministers.
While the move could pave the way for serious negotiations to take place in the coming weeks over the passage of a delayed election-scheduling law, some analysts have pointed out that it leaves Martelly considerably weakened, as Bloomberg notes. The AFP reports that some sectors of the opposition have been mollified by Friday’s announcement, but that others are calling for the president himself to step down.
The latter camp has fueled a new round of anti-government protests in recent days. These protests have been accompanied by reports of inappropriate use of force by elements of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country. According to the AP, MINUSTAH released a statement late Friday that it was investigating these assertions. On Saturday, demonstrators clashed with security forces outside the presidential palace, and at least one was killed after hundreds of youths allegedly attempted to break through police barricades.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and United Nations continue to be playing an important role on the sidelines in attempting to support the government while steering both sides away from a political crisis. State department envoys Tom Adams and Thomas Shannon visited the country last week and met with both Lamothe and Martelly to push for dialogue. And in a Herald interview last week, former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton defended the now former prime minister, saying:
“He’s done a really good job […]The one thing that Haiti doesn’t want to get out of this process is looking like ‘Ok, we had four great years, we were growing like crazy so you think we’ll throw it all away and go back to the old ways. It won’t be good for the country.’”
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