Originally: One Year Later Opposition Still Refuses to Participate in Consensus CEP

Press Release

Date:  August 29, 2003

Contact:  Michelle Karshan, Foreign Press Liaison

Telephone:  (011509) 228-2059

Email:  mkarshan@aol.com

One Year Later Opposition Still Refuses To Participate In Consensus

Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)

Haiti Organizes Constitutionally-Mandated Local And Legislation Elections For


 “The country should not die of institutional asphyxia.” 

Alix Lamarque, President of the 2001 Provisional Electoral Council

Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council, put into place in early 2001, recently

announced that local and parliamentary elections are tentatively scheduled

for November and December this year.  Elections is 2003 are imperative to

prevent a constitutional void in mid-January 2004 when the terms of all the deputies

and one-third of the senate are constitutionally set to expire. To avoid this

crisis, all concerned branches of government are working to organize credible

elections, with the greatest possible participation of the electorate and

civil society institutions. 

The head of the 2001 Provisional Electoral Council, Alix Lamarque, said his

council is obligated to move the electoral process forward, and outlined what

steps they have taken thus far including taking inventory of materials,

equipment, machinery, addressing security concerns, conducting an accounting,

preparing a proposed budget, training electoral personnel, and meeting with various

offices within the government with respect to their roles and responsibilities

in the oversight and planning of these elections.

Mr. Lamarque has also asked that the new consensus electoral council be

formed as quickly as possible to take over the task of overseeing elections, as

spelled out in the September 2002 OAS Resolution 822. At the moment that the

opposition sectors do nominate their representatives, or in the case of those

sectors who have already named their representatives but have refused to put

forward their person for the eventual installation of a new electoral council, the

existing electoral council of 2001 will step aside so the new consensus

electoral council can oversee the elections as planned. 

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and numerous representatives of Haiti’s

government continue to call on the opposition to comply with the terms of OAS

Resolution 822 and its Terms of Reference that calls on nine sectors to nominate

their representatives to sit on a new consensus electoral council to oversee

upcoming elections. President Aristide and the government have made numerous

concessions and overtures for a resolution to the two and a half year old

political crisis that arose solely over the method of calculation employed in the

election of seven Senate seats in the May 2001 elections. 

Two and a half years into the political crisis and one year after the OAS

Resolution 822 called for the formation of a consensus electoral council, the

opposition continues to refuse to participate in its formation, although the

Resolution 822 recognized the urgency of holding elections in 2003. President

Aristide stated that it is “time to create the conditions by respecting the

Constitution of Haiti, the law of the country, and Resolution 822 of the OAS.”  (See

below for history of Progress of the Electoral Council Under President

Aristide’s Administration.)

Prime Minister Yvon Neptune referring to the scheduling of elections

explained that, “The practice of constructing a democracy is achieved through respect

of the principles of the law.” The urgency at this juncture and recent growing

pressure from various sectors of society, obliges Haiti’s government to

organize elections, as constitutionally mandated. 

Haiti’s government, still hopeful that the opposition will put forth their

representatives for the creation of a consensus electoral council, continues to

appeal to the opposition for their cooperation and compliance with OAS

Resolution 822 in doing so. President Aristide explained, “While we work to organize

elections with a [consensus] Provisional Electoral Council that will come out

of the negotiations in the context of [OAS] Resolutions 806 and 822, we ask

the current Provisional Electoral Council and all the other branches of

government?to do everything they can within the limits of the law too prepare the

ground for the consensus [electoral] council. The Haitian government has a moral

obligation to organize these elections so as to avoid an institutional void.”

As election momentum gains speed, some opposition parties continue to refuse

to participate, while others have already thrown their hats into the ring.

Enumerating the various political parties who have already come forward to

declare their readiness to participate in upcoming elections, Haiti’s Secretary of

State for Communications, Mario Dupuy, said Haiti would hold “Free and fair

elections.” Haiti’s Secretary of State for Public Security assured the electoral

council that there will be a climate of security and President Aristide added

that the police “will accompany all of the candidates so that all of them will

be able to run in the elections after leading their electoral campaigns in

complete freedom.” Dismy Cesar, a member of the President’s staff, added that,

“The international community will be able to follow them closely.”

The opposition has consistently claimed that they are not satisfied that a

climate of security has been established, but by refusing to name their

representatives to a new consensus electoral council, they are merely undermining that

which they claim to seek because it is the electoral council who is charged

with the planning and coordination of security for elections, together with the

police and the office of public security.  The opposition, in not

participating, is bypassing their opportunity to partake in the security planning and

oversight of these elections.

Numerous government representatives have called on the international

community to respect Haiti’s need to comply with its Constitution by holding elections

now in an effort to not allow democratic structures, such as a functioning

parliament, be derailed.  Citing numerous concessions made by the government and

the ruling party in an effort to resolve the political crisis, Deputy Rudy

Heriveaux said that the Haitian people have committed themselves to “the road of

compromise, consensus, and especially the road of true democracy.  The role

of the United States today as a great friend of Haiti is to help us consolidate

democracy in the country?”

Further, the Secretary of State for Communications, called on the

international community to “get the parties that have not yet designated their members to

the Provisional Electoral Council to do so.  And for those who have already

designated their members they should get them to be sworn in.”

Finally, Senator Gerald Gilles, referring to the opposition’s continued

refusal to make any concessions or comply with OAS resolutions, added this week

that, “The international community knows very well that in all democratic systems

elections must take place in order to reinforce a country’s democratic

structures…Respecting the minority is a democratic principle. But one must be

careful, because the minority should also respect the principles that allow the

holding of elections.”

Progress of the Electoral Council Under President Aristide’s Administration

February 2001

President Aristide is inaugurated, calls on the opposition to join in the

formation of the constitutionally mandated electoral council

        The opposition desists

A representative and non-partisan provisional electoral council is named,

members include three medical doctors, a retired career diplomat, a public water

works expert, engineers, and university professors

June 2001

An OAS-brokered agreement between the government, the opposition parties,

Convergence and civil society is established to name a consensus CEP by a date


President Aristide secures the resignation of all 9 members of the existing

CEP in preparation of the naming of the new consensus CEP

Convergence requests a delay in naming representative to the consensus CEP,

the OAS consents to the request; Convergence imposes new negotiating conditions

and the process collapses, the consensus CEP is not formed

September 2002

OAS Resolution 822 is passed, it provides for the formation of a new CEP with

one representative of each of the following sectors: Convergence; other

opposition parties; Lavalas; the Catholic Bishop’s Conference; the Protestant

Churches; the Episcopal Church; the human rights organizations through the Catholic

Justice and Peace Commission; the Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and the


Resolution 822 provides that if one of the naming sectors refuses to

participate, the participating sectors may fill any empty seat

Resolution 822 recognizes the urgency that elections go forward in 2003

October – November 2002

Lavalas and the judiciary nominated councilors willing to serve on the CEP

Convergence and the other opposition parties refused to nominate councilors

to the CEP

The remaining five sectors, the Catholic, Protestant, Episcopal churches, the

Justice and Peace Commission and the Chamber of Commerce, nominated

councilors, but instructed these individuals to not participate in the CEP, until the

government satisfied two further requests

The government satisfied the two further requests within the two week-delay

set by the group of five, yet the nominated councilors were not instructed to

sit on the CEP

January 2003

Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened a meeting with the nine naming sectors

to move the process forward; Convergence and the other opposition parties

refused to attend

February 2003

President Aristide convened a meeting with the nine naming sectors and the

OAS Special Mission; Convergence and the other opposition parties again refused

to attend

The group of five continued to refuse to allow its nominees to join the CEP

President Aristide issued a decree for the formation of the CEP that includes

the nominees of the group of five, Lavalas and the judiciary, leaving the two

vacant seats open for Convergence and the opposition parties

However this did not induce/continued to refuse their nominees to come

forward for the installation of the new CEP

From March to July 2003 the 2001 CEP fulfilled their legal obligation to

prepare for local and parliamentary elections in 2003 as foreseen by both the

Constitution and Resolution 822 (terms of reference)

August 13 – seeing still no movement toward the installation of the OAS

consensus CEP, Alix Lamarque (President of the 2001 electoral council) stated that

now is the time to set the date and move forward to the next step to set the


The 2001 CEP continues to stand ready to sede their seats to the OAS

consensus CEP when they do come forward.