On the day that Haiti's 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit, it was business as usual inside the senate chambers. The prime minister spent six hours being questioned. Opposition senators stormed out. And loyalists of Haitian President Rene Preval were prepping for a mutiny against one of their own.
Then came the quake, prompting a rare moment of unity.
Six weeks after Haiti's biggest disaster, the solidarity shown by warring politicians in its wake is beginning to crack amid a brewing political storm that could threaten the very stability Haitian lawmakers say they want.
"This is a moment of crisis," said Sen. Jean Hector Anacacis, who led the effort that ousted Haiti's previous prime minister. "And a moment of crisis demands that you have people with the ability to get things done."
For weeks, a 16-member commission in Haiti's senate has been debating among its members whether Preval and his current government can help this quake-battered nation see its way out of the disaster and put the country on the road to reconstruction. The commission is expected to present its recommendations on Tuesday.
Triggering the debate is not just lawmakers feeling that they have been excluded from the decision-making, but growing complaints over the government and the international community's handling of the crisis as they both continue to struggle to shelter more than 1.2 million people left homeless by the Jan. 12 quake.
Further fueling the discord is Sunday's now-canceled senatorial elections. With no new date yet set, the senate, which lost two members in the quake after the parliament building collapsed, will drop to 18 members as of May, rendering the body almost powerless and unable to influence the reconstruction. Ten of the 29 members were supposed to run for reelection.
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