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Thursday, August 28 2014 @ 11:22 AM EDT

Martinelli Announces Suspension of Extraordinary Sessions

Protests & DemonstrationsPresident Ricardo Martinelli announced on Tuesday, June 19, the suspension of the special sessions in the National Assembly, which were convened last May and were supposed to conclude on 29 June. Martinelli's announcement at a press conference was made after two days of protests in the National Assembly, where even today police officers clashed with opposition deputies. There were also demonstrations and clashes with union members and protesting students in the 5 de Mayo Plaza and on the grounds of the Justo Arosemena Palace. Martinelli said this afternoon he would send to the National Assembly a request to withdraw the controversial bills, which had been sent by the Executive for discussion in special session. Martinelli said these bills would be sent for a broader debate in the National Coalition.

Executive Order: The President's decision was embodied in Executive Order 391, which bears his signature and that was promulgated in the Official Gazette. The document indicates that Executive Decree 383 of June 5, 2012 is left without effect, which extended the extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly, convened by another decree number 335 of May 16, 2012. The first of the special sessions were called from 21 May to 8 June 2012. They were subsequently extended until June 29.

Special sessions were originally convened to discuss projects related to the creation of the Savings Fund of Panama and the Guardian Angel program, in addition, the amendments to the Criminal Code. Subsequently, they included the ratification of the magistrates of the Fifth Chamber of the Supreme Court, and the proposal to sell the government owned shares of the Cable & Wireless, a proposal to update the tax regime applicable to rehabilitate Casco Antiguo, and another creating a special regime for multinational companies operating in Panama.

They also added a project for discussion that would establish a system of incentives for the establishment of generators based on natural gas for the production of electricity for the national grid. In the latter bill, which was approved in the early hours of Thursday 14 June in the second debate, included items related to the sale of state owned shares in energy companies.

"I Make A Call For Peace" - "I call for peace and reflection," said Martinelli during his brief speech from the Palace of the Herons, in the village of San Felipe. The head of state announced that tomorrow - when he had a trip planned to Brazil to attend the Rio Summit +20 - he would be meeting with the Metropolitan Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa and Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza to discuss the situation that has occurred in these days.

Protesters Celebrate: Meanwhile, the public in the stands of the National Assembly, pending the resumption of the debate in the full Legislature, applauded the president's decision. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: They're learning. I was surprised when Martinelli named the three new judges to the Supreme Court, and I was surprised again when he backed off. It seems to me he's learning that sometimes when he makes a mistake, it's better to adjust sooner, rather than later. And you know what? He can still appoint these three judges on the last ten minutes he's in office and then walk away, flipping the bird over his shoulder, and the appointments would still be legally valid. You can deal with this, or you can deal with that...

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