PORT-AU-PRINCE — (AP) — Opposition leaders on Friday balked at President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s latest attempt to ease rising tensions by replacing lawmakers with a nine-member council until elections can be held.

Aristide offered the proposal as he faced his third Cabinet defection and neared a deadline for the terms of two-thirds of Parliament members to expire.

With no legislative elections in sight, the expiration of their terms Jan. 12 would force Aristide to rule by executive decree.

The opposition says replacing legislators does not address Aristide’s failure to comply with Organization of American States resolutions for the government to disarm supporters, bring perpetrators of political violence to justice and reform the police leadership.

”The plan has come too late. We have already said that if Aristide cannot implement the OAS resolutions, he should step down,” said Protestant Federation President Edouard Paultre, a prominent critic.

Seeking to ease the impasse, the Caribbean country’s Catholic Bishops Conference on Nov. 24 proposed a nine-member interim governing council made up of government, opposition and civil society representatives.

”We have found a way to resolve the crisis with a compromise,” Aristide told state-run Television Nationale on Thursday.

‘We can sit down at a table and work out a compromise solution based on the [Catholic] bishops’ proposals.”

Opposition parties and civil groups have refused to sit on an electoral council.

Leaders of the same groups, including the Protestant Federation, said they would not sit on the proposed governing council, either.

”Aristide has gone beyond the limit of the tolerable,” former Sen. Paul Denis said.

Aristide’s proposal came as Environment Minister Webster Pierre became the latest official to resign amid rising violence. He followed Education Minister Marie-Carmel Paule Austin and Tourism Minister Martine Deverson.

Since mid-September, at least 22 people have been killed and scores wounded during antigovernment protests.