PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - Opposition parties in Haiti launched talks on Friday with President Michel Martelly and parliament in an effort to find a solution to a months-long political crisis, a mediator said.
The meeting was expected to focus on the holding of local and legislative elections in the poorest country in the Americas, which has seen regular protests and clashes between Martelly supporters and opponents since late last year.
Apart from the resignation of Mr Martelly, who has been in office since 2011, demonstrators are also calling for better living conditions.
Nearly 200,000 people in Haiti remain homeless following the devastating 2010 earthquake which shattered the country and claimed an estimated 250,000 lives.
"No country can develop in a state of endless conflict," said Mr Chibly Langlois, a cardinal of the Catholic Church in Haiti, urging "a concerted and consensual solution and to solve problems together."
Mr Edmonde Supplice Beauzile, an opposition leader, said: "It was time that Haitians finally decided to sit down and reach an agreement to bring the country out of the crisis. For once the initiative did not come from the international community."
Numerous political parties are taking part in the discussions under the eye of the Haitian Episcopal Conference, which is playing the role of mediator.
However, major political groups including that of the former president Jean Bertrand Aristide shunned the meeting.