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Haiti Sets Legislative Election Date Amid Criticism

FILE - Haitian workers from the Provisional Electoral Council organize ballots.

Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council has set a date for the delayed legislative elections that have been a source of political contention.

The vote for 20 members of the Senate and 118 members of the Chamber of Deputies will be August 9, the council announced Wednesday. The presidential election will be held on October 25 according to Council Executive Director Mosler Georges. If no candidate receives more than half of the votes, a runoff would be held on December 27.

But some opposition parties are criticizing the announcement saying the election calendar is too long and too costly. Jean Baptiste Bien Aime, who represents the Northeast in the Senate told VOA the electoral council meeting was just "theater" because "there won't be an election in 2015."

Moïse Jean-Charles, a former opposition senator who represented the Northern department in the parliament said during a press conference that "Dessaline's children's [a reference to one of Haiti's founding leaders] platform is not yet ready to participate in the elections announced by the Provisional Electoral Council, although the group believes in the need for elections."

Jean-Charles added that he would not participate in the election organized by the government of Michel Martelly and that "the government must go."

Martelly is ineligible for re-election when his term runs out later this year under the Constitution, which forbids consecutive terms.

Martelly was to have announced legislative elections in 2011 but a small group of opposition senators blocked the legislation, leaving him to rule the country by decree. The terms of all sitting lawmakers expired in January.

Haiti has a long history of coups, uprisings and dictatorships. The dissolution of parliament raised fears that it was once again headed toward violent unrest.

The country is still heavily dependent on U.S. financial aid and the presence of U.N. peacekeepers.

VOA's Creole Service contributed to this report, some information came from AP and Reuters.