Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Haiti's delayed elections will top discussions during Martelly's White House visit

WASHINGTON -- Haiti President Michel Martelly is likely to feel pressure on scheduling elections in Haiti as he meets Wednesday with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, ahead of a Thursday meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House.

At least a dozen members of the House Foreign Affairs committee have agreed to attend an 8:30 a.m. breakfast with Martelly organized by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. Martelly will also meet with Secretary of State John Kerry then have lunch with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The meetings will be a trial run for his Thursday visit to the White House, where Obama is likely to commend Martelly for accepting a Senate bill on elections, but urge him to continue to work on breaking the political gridlock that has dogged his presidency and helped delay long-overdue senatorial and municipal elections. The balloting for one-third of Haiti's 30-member Senate has been delayed since May 2012, while municipal elections have been delayed since April 2011.

A national dialogue in Port-au-Prince, led by the Catholic Church, entered its second week Monday with more than 50 political parties and the government apparently agreeing to stage one election this year, but with continued political wrangling over which electoral council will stage the balloting.

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