Initial reaction of Haiti Democracy Project to the proposals made by the Democratic Convergence.
The Convergence’s proposal changes, and it must be said, vastly improves the OAS initial accord in a number of fundamental ways. Below is a quick rundown of the changes and how they impact on the issues:
1. The Convergence adds the government as a party to the agreement. The previous draft was just between the Convergence and Fanmi Lavalas, two political parties. The only role of the government was to view and approve the agreement between these two. The Convergence document remains contradictory in that in the beginning it adds the government as a party to the agreement, but does not have it sign the agreement.
Adding the government to the agreement is appropriate because the issues addressed in the agreement can only be carried out by a government. For example, in the previous draft it states that Fanmi Lavalas, a political party, will hold elections in 2003. This is obviously faulty language; only a government holds elections; political parties compete for posts in elections. The Convergence draft removes this anomalous language.
Adding the government is also an improvement because if it were not a signatory, that could be one more excuse for nonfulfillment of its terms.
Normally, this should be an agreement between the government and the parliamentary opposition. But because the electoral fraud of the year 2000 precluded the opposition from gaining any seats in parliament, it is not a parliamentary opposition. Making this an agreement between the government and opposition begins the process of righting this wrong.
2. Instead of accepting the November 2000 electoral results, the Convergence draft calls on the new electoral commission (CEP) to rule on those elections. In the remaining text, it is clear that the review is mainly of the one-third of the senate elected in November 2000 whose FL candidates ran unopposed. Left unaddressed in the Convergence draft is the status of Aristide’s election itself. By accepting the head of state in a consensus government, however, the Convergence draft obliquely cedes his election, although its draft also calls on all elected officials to resign. Ceding Aristide but rejecting the senators appears to us to be an equitable, common-sense solution to the problem of the November 2000 elections, since the Convergence and international observers had solid grounds for boycotting that election. It is difficult to accept the election of the senators, but it is more widely conceded that Aristide would have won anyhow.
3. The previous draft said that the acts of the May 21 legislators could be ratified either by presidential decree or a new parliament. The new Convergence draft says the acts of all legislators elected in 2000 must be ratified by the new parliament.
4. The mandate of the CEP is expanded to include elections for the entire parliament and all the territorial communities, and schedules elections at least twelve months after signing of the agreement.
5. The CEP is to assure equitable access of political parties to funding and media.
6. On signing of the accord, all elected officials are to resign. No explicit exception here is made for Aristide although as noted the head of state retains a role in the rest of the document.
7. Interim agents will replace local officials.
8. A consensus government consisting of a prime minister named by Convergence and the incumbent president will be set up fifteen days after signing of the accord.
9. Freedom of press is to be guaranteed and protected.
10. The report of the OAS commission of inquiry into the December 17, 2001 arson and violence against the opposition and independent media is to be implemented.
11. The CEP will have police it can deploy to protect the elections.