Mr Provisional President of the Republic,
Members of the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen of the Council of Wise Men,
Leaders and members of political parties,
Members of the cabinet,
Thanks to the people, the CS, provisional president
We come here this afternoon to solemnly hail the accomplishment of a process desired by the vital forces of society in our country. For a number of months now, citizens of all origins and social conditions in our national life have often expressed their willingness to turn their backs definitively on the dictatorship. And they did so by braving the repression and the permanent violations of human rights, even though the dangers were enormous.
Without the courageous, untiring and relentless struggle of the young people, the women, the trade union members of this country, the organized sectors of civil society and the political parties in the capital and in the provinces, for example in Gonaives where I was born, in Saint-Marc, in Petit-Goave, in Cap-Haitien or in Hinche, just to mention these few; without their courageous struggle, we would not be here today to install this prestigious government team. We would not be able to expect a real change in how the country is governed either. But now we find ourselves in a situation where we have to affirm that we can and will do the impossible.
I want to express my admiration and gratitude to all those who have made that possible. The unprecedented and innovative undertaking that led to the existence of this government is not a common thing in the history of Haiti and therefore deserves to be remembered.
Some people did not hesitate to say that Latortue [“la tortue” means “the turtle”] is moving slowly. But the results are there to prove that Latortue, the turtle, will get to his destination anyhow. We promised that the formation of the government would be completed by Tuesday night [16 March] and that it would be installed by Wednesday afternoon. And we did exactly that.
I want to render public homage to the honesty and strictness of the members of the CS. It is the first time in Haiti that the formation of a government has given rise to such democratic and thorough consultations. The CS elaborated a matrix to analyse the candidates for the posts of ministers and secretaries of state, which was used to study the candidates proposed by the different groups from the population. All candidates, apart from three of them, were carefully studied to measure the competence and honesty of the candidates.
I also want to hail the patience and true collaboration of the provisional president, Judge Boniface Alexandre, who has shown understanding and support throughout the process.
“Competent and honest technicians… to do the impossible”
From the first day, I promised to form a restricted government that would be made up of competent and honest technicians who are aware of the democratic exigencies. And that is exactly the kind of government I now have the honour to present to the nation.
I know very well that its composition may give rise to a stir among those who, according to Haitian tradition, would prefer to see privileges given to the people who were out in the streets leading the fight for a change of regime. I understand that, but I also know that their patriotic sense of the interests of this country will allow them to grasp the opportunity and the fairness of the chosen formula, because the provisional president, the CS and I decided unanimously that the success of these difficult and delicate functions would be better guaranteed by a nonpartisan government. And we thus invite everybody to judge according to the results.
Once the government takes office, I intend to establish a permanent dialogue with the political classes and the diverse social sectors to define the major orientations of the politics of the nation. My office and those of the members of my government will be open to them and all parties, without distinction.
At this essential crossroads of our history as a nation, this obsessive question that has always troubled our country has come into our minds once again. It is: Will Haiti survive? It is not necessary to draw an obscure picture of the disastrous and distressing indicators that constitute the web of all economic and social studies on the situation of our country.
The task is enormous, and the challenge looks insurmountable. We have chosen to take it up. We have no right to make mistakes. Therefore, we have no choice but to do the impossible.
A transitional government creating a different, better way of governing
This is a transitional government that should not think that it can solve all of the problems.
What my government is going to propose is mainly an undertaking, a methodology that, in the time that we are given, will show that it is possible to govern this country in a different and better way. We shall establish a new type of relationship between the state and the citizen, between the public and private sectors. We shall favour a system of good governance. We shall fight the corruption that has ruined our institutions, destroyed the moral values and prevented the economic progress of our country. That is what we want to do and will do. Some people will think that it is impossible. But we shall have to do the impossible.
As for us, the mission of this government is to carry out this transition successfully by creating the means to ease the pain of the poor and also by creating conditions to put democracy back on the rails. We shall also work to re-establish security, decentralization, promotion of investment, job creation and the promotion of micro-enterprises and medium-sized enterprises that are capable of generating revenue.
“Re-establishment of the authority of the state”, peace, security
The country is in a very serious situation. The people’s expectations are many. Everything seems to be a priority. And yet we shall have to make choices. First of all, the government will work towards the re-establishment of the authority of the state, of social peace and public security. We need to do that so that the schools, colleges and universities may be able to reopen their doors. We also need that so that the economic activities may be resumed and the people may be able to resume a normal life.
For this difficult mission, we know that we shall be able to count on the experience, competence and firmness of an expert in this matter. And by this I mean my friend and brother, Gen Herard Abraham.
My Dear Herard, I am glad that you were able patriotically to agree to come and join me in the service of the land we have in common. I know that I can depend on you, with the collaboration of Justice Minister Bernard Gousse, the minister of justice and public security, with the efficient support of the international community, we hope to obtain rapid results in the stabilization of the country, the reinforcement of our national security and the professionalization of the police forces.
Priorities “for now”
Bearing in mind the lamentable state of our country today, as I said before, it is difficult to set priorities. But electricity shortages in Port-au-Prince and in the provinces, the insecurity of the streets, the high cost of living, the resumption of activities at the universities and schools and the poor condition of the streets and roads are among the priorities of the government for now.
I want to stress that the reasons for some of these problems – the electricity supply, for example – requires a transfer of the market and the signing of agreements that will be done this time in the interests of the country and with respect for the norms of transparency.
I have given instructions to the minister without portfolio, who will be the government’s spokesman, to receive the people’s grievances. Some telephone numbers will be put at the disposal of the people, where they can call to share their problems, offer suggestions and make criticisms. The government and the institutions in charge will study the complaints periodically so that they may take them into account in the formulation of public policies.
An apology; an end to impunity; justice with results
The Haitian people’s fight for the preservation of its democratic values and the respect of its fundamental rights has given rise to a lot of repression, violations of human rights, rapes – sometimes even in hospitals – looting, fires and crime. These acts were in fact perpetrated by agents of the Haitian state.
What I would like to say and make clear to everybody now is that this government has nothing to do with all of the abuses and bad acts committed by the Haitian state or previous governments. But today, on behalf of the Haitian government, I feel it is a duty to ask the Haitian people for forgiveness. I am now asking the Haitian people to forgive all of the crimes and the evils that the other government committed against them. I want to beg the forgiveness of all of the victims of the past government.
I was not part of the people who were beating you up. But what I want to tell you now is that I promise to commit this government to a different road so that these kinds of things may not happen to you again. And I hope that all of the people who will be leading this country at the end of our term in office will also make a similar and firm commitment to the Haitian people. Please, forgive me, and I hope that these kinds of things will not happen in the country any more.
It is only the victims who can really forgive. But forgiveness does not mean that the victims should forget what was done to them. It does not mean impunity or the denial of the people’s right to justice. The justice minister of my government will have to double his efforts to set up an impartial, credible and fair judicial apparatus as quickly as possible. The judicial apparatus will then help the people to regain confidence in the judicial system of their country in the fight against impunity. The victims will be able to register complaints and believe that, this time, investigations will not be under way indefinitely.
I want to eliminate the system whereby it is always said that an investigation is under way, without it ever coming to an end and without any results. I want to eliminate that from the vocabulary of the police and judicial authorities.
Political parties: role of, financing for and fewer
The transition that my government will ensure is not an easy task and will only last as long as necessary to create favourable conditions this time for the holding of free, credible, and democratic conditions at all levels. And it will be the duty of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which I hope will be set up as quickly as possible in the days to come.
No solid or durable democracy can be effective without the participation of modern and worthy political parties. I want to seize this occasion to hail all of my friends from the political parties and tell them that I am counting on them to play their part for the success of this democratic transition. Without wanting to give them orders, I want to let them know that our young democracy needs to settle down in this sector.
I do not believe that the role of a political party is to seek to have jobs in a government. There are only 12,000 of them. So, how many jobs would I be able to provide? However, once the ministerial cabinet is installed, what I want is to undertake an important dialogue with all political parties, all organizations, the students, the women’s organizations, and the peasants’ organizations so that, together, we may establish the orientation we want to give the government. This is in fact what the role of a political party is in a democracy.
On the occasion of the elections to come, the government hopes to bring, with the help of the international community, material support to the reinforcement and financing of political parties. But the multiplicity of them will certainly make the work difficult and will only involve an inefficient and counterproductive sprinkling for the democracy.
And this is something that we want to avoid. I want to hope that the initiative to get some political parties to form clusters, which is already under way, will continue and that instead of having dozens of political parties, there may be no more than three or five political parties in this country that can truly represent the interests of solid groups, not the interests of meaningless groups. This is what I wish and want for the country.
Support of, new partnership with international community
In this mission aimed at improving security conditions, the professionalization of the police, and the reinforcement of democracy and good governance, I know that my government can count on the support of the international community and the true friends of Haiti.
My government hopes to initiate, with all of the international agencies and all of the countries that are friends of Haiti, a new type of partnership based on mutual confidence, on respect for the norms of transparency and good governance that favours the optimum utilization of the resources made available to us.
The ministers of my government who are responsible for matters concerning economic issues, planning and international relations are true experts in international mechanisms of financing, and they will take good care of that.
Idea for a national conference will be studied
In our common search for a new Haiti, it was suggested that a national conference should be held that could lead to a new social contract. I would like to study this idea thoroughly in discussions with the key people concerned in order to establish an appropriate mechanism and propose the convocation of the nation. This will allow us to study together the grievances of all the sectors, to define the priorities and the means to execute all of our plans.
Cabinet members’ duties, responsibilities; they must make declarations of assets
Ladies and gentlemen members of government, I know that you have come from different horizons. Your presence in this team is the result of multiple discussions aimed at sharing the work that we have to do for the Haitian nation. Your only privilege is that of serving the Haitian people.
As people in charge of public funds, you will have to make sure that each penny that you spend or that is spent with your authorization will be spent out of your concern for efficiency and is directly orientated towards the beneficiaries, the true creators of the wealth of which you are making use. For this reason, I shall not hesitate a minute to use all of the rigour of the law against anybody who proves to be unworthy of the trust placed in them.
I want to seize the occasion to ask you to present a financial statement of your assets so that we may take notice of it and so that, at the end of your mission, we may be able to give you a discharge based on the level of wealth accumulated while in your posts.
“The country has been ransacked and we shall need to assess the damage”
Many of you will be surprised to notice that I do not tackle economic and social issues, such as health care, education, urban problems and reform of the state and public administration, which are in fact some major projects.
That is because this is not a general policy speech. I want to take time to discuss things with my government, in consultation with the political parties. I want to take time to conduct an inventory in order to evaluate what is left of the structures and resources of the state. The country has been ransacked and we shall need to assess the damage.
I intend to hire an international company to audit the public finances and state administration so that the people may know the extent of the damage caused by the predators of the nation.
You can see the exceptional quality of the men and women who form this team. They are competent, honest and courageous. They are true patriots who want to serve their country and their fellow citizens in this extremely difficult and delicate time in the life of the nation. Our mission will not be easy and we know it. But our determination is great and we are ready to start work immediately.
We shall do the impossible. Haiti will live. You just have to trust us. Long live Haiti! May God bless us all!