Somber gatherings mark 5th anniversary of Haiti earthquake

Updated: 2015-01-13 10:30


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Somber gatherings mark 5th anniversary of Haiti earthquake

People from a slum in Haiti's capital commemorate 5th anniversary of Haiti earthquake by releasing balloons, Jan 12, 2014. [Photo/IC]

President Michel Martelly and opposition lawmakers have been embroiled in a political showdown since 2011, when he was supposed to call a vote for a majority of Senate seats, the entire Chamber of Deputies and local offices. A group of opposition senators who accuse Martelly of trying to undermine the Constitution have blocked a vote that would lead to approval of an electoral law.

Parliament's mandate comes to a close Monday and no law has been authorized to allow a vote.

The president, who leaves office next year, could soon sign a decree allowing Haiti to hold legislative elections later this year. On Monday morning, he said that he was losing hope that lawmakers would pass a law in the hours before Parliament dissolves.

"It's their responsibility to do it, it's not mine. I just hope that they do it, but it's been there for so long that I think we have little chance," he told AP at a memorial service for earthquake victims at a mass burial site north of the capital.

After days of negotiations with opposition figures, the president announced Sunday he had forged a last-minute accord with leaders of four opposition parties, leading to hopes an electoral law could soon be passed. But an emergency parliamentary session scheduled for Monday did not take place.

At a memorial service on the national holiday, Martelly contrasted the solidarity Haitians displayed in the immediate aftermath of the quake with the messy political situation it is enduring now. Opposition protesters have repeatedly clashed with riot police in downtown Port-au-Prince as they press for the president's departure.

"Enough is enough," Martelly said during his speech, addressing his words to opposition groups orchestrating the street protests. "Give the country a chance, in the name of the all the victims who died five years ago."