The Americas

Haiti's bickering lawmakers avoid vote on interim leader

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2016, file photo, Haiti's provisional President Jocelerme Privert stands for the national anthem after delivering his speech at an installation ceremony, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti’s deeply divided lawmakers met at the National Assembly but were unable to make progress toward a vote on the interim president’s mandate which expired two weeks ago. The fruitless session began Tuesday, June 28 and was adjourned early Wednesday. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2016, file photo, Haiti's provisional President Jocelerme Privert stands for the national anthem after delivering his speech at an installation ceremony, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Haiti’s deeply divided lawmakers met at the National Assembly but were unable to make progress toward a vote on the interim president’s mandate which expired two weeks ago. The fruitless session began Tuesday, June 28 and was adjourned early Wednesday. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, File)  (The Associated Press)

Haiti's fragmented Parliament failed again Wednesday to decide what to do about the caretaker president whose term has expired but remains in office in the absence of a vote resolving the latest leadership disorder.

A joint National Assembly session adjourned after grandstanding speeches, arguments over agenda items and breaks for closed-door negotiations went on for hours. No vote was taken.

For two weeks, Haiti's bickering senators and deputies have avoided a vote on whether to extend the mandate of acting President Jocelerme Privert or pave the way for another provisional leader. Privert's 120-day mandate expired two weeks ago under the terms of a February accord that helped bring him to power.

Already dismal public perceptions of many Haitian politicians appear to be sinking lower amid the latest paralysis, especially as a slew of economic, health and other challenges worsen in the struggling country.

"I just wish these people could find a way to compromise and move on. It seems like there is no end to it," said Beatrice Pantal, a hair stylist in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

In February, a majority of National Assembly members elected Privert to head a short-term provisional government amid suspended elections that have left the presidency vacant.

Electoral officials recently announced that a new presidential election will be held in October with safeguards to avoid the fraud that marred last year's voting.

Besides their opposition to Privert, various opposition candidates blocking a parliamentary vote are also fighting to ensure they don't lose their seats. A verification commission that called for a redo of last year's presidential balloting due to significant electoral fraud also urged that a number of legislative contests be examined closely by electoral authorities.

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David McFadden on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dmcfadd