Haiti’s electoral council announced dates Friday for elections the government has delayed for months despite ongoing protests. The nation has operated without its parliament since January, when the governing body dissolved and former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned after elections were not held as scheduled.
Elections will be held Aug. 9 for Haiti’s chamber of deputies and for two-thirds of its senate, according to the BBC. The vote for Haiti’s presidency will follow on Oct. 25, with incumbent President Michel Martelly barred by constitutional law from running for another term.
Haiti has not held elections for its Senate since May 2012, while the municipal vote has not been held in three years. A dispute between Martelly and political opponents in the Senate over election law exacerbated the delay.
Demonstrators have protested against Martelly, the lack of a new election and Haiti’s high fuel prices for months. Haitian police used tear gas on crowds and arrested 20 people who took to Port-au-Prince’s streets last month to protest the exorbitant cost of oil and cost of living.
Similar protests occurred in January, when thousands marched in the capital city to call for Martelly’s resignation after parliament’s dissolution. Martelly attempted to calm the crowds with a vow that he had reached a deal with his political opponents to form a new government within two days, though the deal never materialized. At the time, opposition leaders alleged Martelly purposefully held up elections so that he could continue to rule Haiti by presidential decree, the BBC reported.
The Haitian government said in February that it was unable to lower fuel costs, the profits of which Haiti uses to pay back its $1.5 billion debt to Venezuela. The United Nations and the United States have expressed public support for Martelly’s regime and urged Haiti’s citizens to remain peaceful until elections can be held.