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Wednesday, September 03 2014 @ 12:35 AM EDT

Henriquez Calls For Calm, And Says The "Fifth Chamber Is Buried"

Panama NewsThe Foreign Minister of Panama, Roberto Henriquez, said the Panamanian people could remain calm because the controversial Bill 486 will be sent to the National Coalition for Development and the special sessions in the National Assembly were suspended, as announced yesterday by President Ricardo Martinelli after protests. Henriquez asked the people to "continue on in an atmosphere of peace" and to continue to build the country. "The Fifth Chamber is buried," said the chancellor, who said yesterday the demonstrations were led by the political opposition. He also congratulated the opposition because once the president announced the withdrawal of the discussion of the project, they were willing to participate in the round table discussions. Bill 486 would allow for the sale of the state owned shares in the electricity companies through the stock market, and provides for the regulation of the electricity market. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: In a television interview this morning Henriquez explained how the effort to revive the Fifth Chamber was more an initiative of the Supreme Court than the Executive branch or Ricardo Martinelli. They have apparently been pressuring Martinelli to nominate the three new judges for quite some time. Martinelli was stalling at first, saying there was no place outfitted and prepared for the new Fifth Chamber to work. In response, the Supreme Court renovated a building, installed furniture, turned on the lights, and set the place up. A few weeks ago the President of the Supreme Court Alejandro Moncada Luna toured those facilities, and again pressured Martinelli through the news media to appoint the three new judges. Then last week Moncada Luna took out full page ads in several of the most prominent newspapers in Panama City, basically demanding that President Martinelli comply with the Supreme Court's decision to revive the Fifth Chamber, and to nominate the three new judges. According to Henriquez, Martinelli made the nominations last week in response to this growing pressure from the Supreme Court. So when it all blew up on Monday and Tuesday this week, and Martinelli saw how all of the various opposition elements were prepared to unite and unify in their efforts to confront this decision, he quickly backed down. And, here's why...

That's Not The Priority: Winning the election in 2014 is the priority for the Cambio Democratico political party. Ricardo Martinelli will not be running. He will finish his five years in office and go away. But consider this - if the CD wins the 2014 elections by the end of the term in office of the next CD president (whoever that turns out to be after they hold their primary elections) all nine of the Supreme Court justices will have been appointed to the court by a CD president, either Martinelli or his successor. So, who needs the Fifth Chamber when you can get solid control of the court by just focusing on winning the election?

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