PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s Senate reconvened Monday for the first time in a year with only a handful of legislators present, a move that highlighted the country’s dysfunctional government as it prepares for elections following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
The 30-member Senate currently has only 10 lawmakers because the country failed to hold legislative elections originally scheduled for October 2019 and later postponed several times. Of those 10 members, only about seven showed up as Senate President Joseph Lambert delivered his speech at Parliament in downtown Port-au-Prince.
He said elections need to be held this year to make Haiti stronger and award it legitimacy as he worried about a lack of consensus.
“We have to work together,” he said as supporters inside Parliament and those listening outside via speakers clapped. “This year should be a year of dialogue.”
Prime Minister Ariel Henry has pledged to hold general elections this year, but he has not provided a specific date. The elections were originally scheduled for last year, but they were delayed by the pandemic, a spike in gang violence and Moïse’s killing.
Shortly after the July 7 assassination, Lambert declared himself president of Haiti with the support of several politicians, but the move was largely ignored. Lambert also has criticized an accord that Henry signed with several political leaders and organizations in a bid to build a provisional consensus government to lead Haiti until elections are held.
Henry was expected to meet with the remaining senators on Monday as the country debated the length of their terms on social media and via radio stations.