The uneasiness continues within the Provisional Electoral Council, CEP, and everyone is trying to interpret it his or her way and to give his or her opinions on what should be done to solve the problem. A meeting was held yesterday between the members of the Follow-Up Committee and the CEP. Patrick Rema, who covered this meeting for Radio Galaxie, filed a report. He explains that according to Solidarity for National Rescue leader Gerard Blot, civil society is advocating the three-step election issue. Blot explains that the CEP problem stems from a conflict between civil society and the political parties.
Huguenson Auguste files a report on the views of attorney Osner Fevry, head of a branch of the Haitian Christian Democratic Party, PDCH, regarding the CEP conflict. Fevry says he provisionally supports both Roselaure Julien as CEP president and representative of the Catholic Church and CEP Treasurer Francois Benoit as representative of the private sector, and that they should have 30 days to settle their problems. However, given the seriousness of the conflict, the PDCH demands the dismissal of Patrick Fequiere and Rosemond Pradel, representatives of the nonaligned parties and the Democratic Convergence respectively. He wishes these members to be replaced by representatives of university students and the voodoo sector. The government has not yet taken a stand on the CEP crisis.
The CEP has issued a press release signed by CEP President Julien who explains that she voluntarily kept silent for some time in order to allow CEP spokesman Pradel to do his job. She wants to talk about three points. She says she got 75 per cent of the votes for the position of CEP president whereas her colleague Benoit got 25 per cent of the votes. In spite of the dealings and manoeuvres, she wants to finish the job. She says that at the end of the electoral process, those who will be elected and other participants will pay tribute to the CEP for a job well done. She explains that the presidency of the CEP has taken up the challenge by hiring people to fill vacancies. She adds that the CEP relies on the unconditional support of all. Radio Galaxie points out that the press release is six pages long.
Father Amos Georges of Miray Balon asks Monsignor Hubert Constant to remove Julien as representative of the Catholic Church from the CEP. He points out that under the Lavalas regime Constant put Julien in positions where she could make money. Georges calls on Constant to distance himself from politics.
Report by Ernst Cadition on a meeting that was held yesterday between the CEP and the Follow-Up Committee on the CEP conflict. Most members of this committee disagree with a possible dismissal of the CEP members. Marie-Denise Claude says that there can be disagreement among members of a group, but these disagreements must not exceed a certain limit. She adds: “I regret that the National Coalition for Haitian Rights was able to get that far…. Their behaviour as human beings is not the most important thing. The most important thing is what work they are doing.”
Report by Jacmel correspondent Derival: Dieusaint Marcelin, head of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Jacmel, asks CEP members to regain their self-control. Pastor Marcelin says it is not normal for only one person to make decisions within the CEP while the other members are not even aware. Former Deputy Joseph Lambert asks the CEP members to try to reach an agreement before it is too late. He calls on the CEP members to put the nation first.
Presentation by Evens Nelson of the “Guest of the Day Segment.” Today’s guest is Mrs Anne-Marie Issa, member of the Council of Eminent Persons, COEP, and director general of Signal FM Radio. She is going to answer questions about the CEP conflict. She says: “To begin, I would not like to mix up things…. As a member of the COEP, I must say that this situation worries me enormously…. The country expects a great deal from the CEP… We know that the elections must go through the CEP.” She speaks of the fragility of the country and the Haitian people and points out: “I do not think that this is what we deserve. We deserve better than that.” She adds that it is very difficult to ask the people to go to elections with this CEP without making corrections. In response to a question about the meeting held yesterday by the Follow-Up Committee and the CEP, she says: “we are an institution whose mission is to see to it that institutions operate properly.” She adds that yesterday the COEP asked another member, Dr Ariel Henry, to formally request a meeting between the COEP and the CEP. Unfortunately, after contacting Mrs Julien, Henry said that Julien was not interested in meeting with the COEP, according to Issa. She explains that Julien was willing to meet with Henry as a friend but not as a COEP member. “Mrs Julien thinks that she was sent by God…. This is very worrisome.” Issa says the COEP will write a letter to all the members of the CEP to formally request a meeting with them. According to a press release issued by the CEP, the CEP president says she wants to go to the end, meaning, to hold the elections in spite of dealings and manoeuvres. Nelson asks Issa if she is aware of any sector that might want to harm the CEP. Issa replies that if Julien knows of something like that, she must clearly say so. Issa goes on to say: “You are the CEP president, you suspect that members of a given sector want to corrupt you, you must denounce it. As long as this is not denounced, I believe that it is a diversion.” She calls on the Haitian people to be vigilant in order to make sure that things are done properly.
Gerard Blot, leader of Solidarity for National Rescue (TA) and spokesman for the group of nonaligned parties, has said that the crisis in the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) is a problem which Haiti experienced before, in 1990, namely a clash between civil society, represented by the private sector, and the political parties. Blot added: “Civil society must play its role in society. We need it. We also need the political parties for democracy, because it is the responsibility of the political parties to submit candidates and to lead the country.” The following is the text of a live interview with Blot by announcer Raphael Daniel Theloma in Port-au-Prince on 3 August broadcast on the “French News of the 0600-0830 News Programme” by Haitian Galaxie radio on 3 August:
Q. Good morning to everyone once again. The “Guest of the Day” segment is coming into your house. My name is Raphael Daniel Theloma and our guest is Dr Gerard Blot from the group of non-aligned political parties. Good morning, Dr Blot, and thank you for being our guest this morning.
A. Good morning. Good morning to all Radio Galaxie listeners.
Q. Let us say quickly, Dr Blot, that you are aware of what is going on in the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), that there is a serious crisis. There is talk today about two camps. We know that we must be a team to win. Only harmony within a team can yield results. Today, there is talk about a fragmented CEP.
You were and you are still are a party to the formation of this CEP, because you designated a member of this CEP, namely Patrick Fequiere, who brought about the scandal, according to many people. Can you tell me quickly why you chose Fequiere to represent the non-aligned parties within the CEP?
A. Fequiere is a member of the National Reconstruction Movement (MRN). We in the nonaligned parties agreed to designate a valuable person who could represent us. That is why Fequiere was chosen. He has a very good CV. He is a businessman but he has also taken part in the political struggle. We chose him.
If the scandal came through him in a way, you should not linger over the epiphenomena. You should look deep into the problems in order to see what games of interests – economic or political interests – prevail within the CEP and explain that this scandal has occurred because there are many problems in the CEP.
At this moment, the government has not released funds to allow the CEP to work. There were big issues within this CEP, issues of a political nature, not partisan politics, but of a political orientation.
An electronic ballot is necessarily exclusionist because it requires a digital card and a digital card in a country where people do not have identity cards gives rise to a certain exclusion, a certain reduction in the number of voters.
Then the same individuals come up with the three-election formula that includes an election for the territorial collectivities. An election for territorial collectivities means elections for Communal Section Assemblies (Asecs), that is, for 5,033 Asecs; elections for city delegates (DV), that is 393 DVs; for the Communal Section Administration Councils (Casecs), that is, 1,695 Casecs; and for the mayors in the 135 communes, that is, 4,054 mayors. There are a total of 5,232 electoral positions that need to be filled.
You tell me that if you hold elections for 7,500 positions, it will be good and that a second election will be held for 110 legislative positions, that is, for 27 senators and 83 deputies and a third election for a presidential position. You tell me that if you hold elections for 7,500 plus 110 or 111, there will be rigged elections, but if you hold elections for the 7,500, the elections will not be rigged. In this situation, tell me whatever you like; you are not coherent. There is something that is hidden.
Q. You speak of a sector that is allegedly at the origin of all that. Do you know what you are talking about?
A. Certainly, because the problem is not new. It already occurred in 1990. It is a problem between civil society and the political parties. We lived through the same situation in 1990, when civil society had to take power over the political parties. At that time, we had a president, that is Mrs Ertha Pascal Trouillot, who was supported by the political parties. Civil society was represented by the State Council. I was a member of the State Council at that time.
Civil society set up the CEP. It had total control over the CEP. This is so true that when their candidates came up – whereas the voter registration was already over – they extended the registration process to allow the supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who entered the race very late because he was originally opposed to the 1990 elections, to register to vote. This shows you how much they controlled the CEP.
There is another fight now that is being carried out over the control of power. This fight is between civil society, represented by the private sector, and the political parties. Civil society won the first round by managing to impose the notion of neutral transition, with Gerard Latortue as prime minister and without the political parties. This allowed Latortue to tell the political parties to give the country a chance, as if the political parties had put the country in its current situation.
As regards the Council of Wise Men (CS), the political parties are also present. In the CEP, both civil society and the political parties are present, which was not the case in 1990. Now, they want control. They wanted the presidency of the CEP through their representative. That could not take place.
Q. Are you talking about Francois Benoit?
A. That is the one. Now an entire cabal has been set up in order to overthrow the CEP president, to take advantage of Mrs Roselaure Julien’s insufficiencies or immoderate language – although she apologized – in order to demand total upheaval and the dissolution of the CEP, whereas they know very well under what conditions we reached the consensus that allowed this CEP to be set up. It took us months and years of discussions for us to have this CEP. So we must hold elections next week and you are demanding the dissolution of the CEP.
Well, it would be really irresponsible to give rise to this new crisis. We wonder whether the people really want elections next year or if they want to start all over again, plunging Haiti into another crisis that is perhaps deeper than the one we experienced, because there is nothing constitutional now.
Q. When you speak of civil society, you are referring to the Group of 184 Civil Society Organizations, G-184, and its supporters, such as Andre Apaid and others. One of the members of the human rights organizations has requested straightforwardly the dissolution of this CEP. Do you think this is part of a plan?
A. The National Coalition for Haitian Rights is part of the human rights organizations. It pays attention perhaps to the epiphenomena, to the apparent effects. But we are practising politics. We know the basis of the problem. We think that between putting the pieces together, playing the role of a stopper in an attempt to put the pieces together and blowing up the CEP and thus plunging the country into another crisis, we would prefer the first option.
That is why those of us on the follow-up committee hope to meet the CEP this afternoon in order first to get information on the problems they are facing and to see what can be done to solve those problems, because it is a fundamental problem of modernization and normalization of Haitian political life, in which both the political parties and civil society must play their roles.
So, it is not a question of civil society taking the place of the political class, the political parties, in the electoral issues. This is clear to us. We lived through the experience of 1990. We have become hardened and we are watching.
Q. Does this mean that you already fear another coup d’etat in another form?
A. Well, this has not materialized. But so far, I can tell you that the political parties have never been able to manage power. If you look at history, during the first 150 years of our history, they used to take power with weapons and those who took power made sure they were ratified through secondary elections in parliament.
Starting in 1948, Haiti became a member of the United Nations, where it was a question of universal suffrage. We had former general Paul Eugene Magloire in 1950. He was the only candidate. Dr. Francois Duvalier was elected in 1957 under the banner of a party, the National Unified Party, which he dissolved the following year, that is, in 1958. For twenty-nine years there was no political life and one could not speak of political parties in the country.
There was one bright spot in 1986, with the development of political parties. In 1990, Aristide ran under the banner of the National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD). He did not even wait for his swearing-in ceremony. On 3 or 4 February 1991, he dissolved the Lavalas operation that brought him to power, telling the FNCD to withdraw because it was simply a legal banner, chapeau legal, that he had used to compete in the election, because the requirements made it very difficult for people not affiliated with political parties or groups to run.
For the duration of the Aristide government, the political parties were persecuted. As early as 1991, the premises of the FNCD were set afire. Then, we saw what happened during the last few years with the third version of Aristide. That is the situation. The political parties have never led this country. Duvalier did not really come from a political party, just as Aristide did not come from a political party. There have always been attempts by civil society – after the army – to take control of power.
Today, we say that the country must be modernized. The private sector must be able to become integrated into the political parties of their choice. The political parties are now making an effort to get together and to come up with a clear doctrine and action programmes. If they want, they can set up political parties. There is room for all kinds of doctrines. They can set up their political parties.
But wanting to control the electoral apparatus while we do not have a neutral transition – because they are speaking of a government of technocrats, it is true that they are talking about a government of technocrats who were supposed to be neutral in principle, but this is not what we have seen.
Many of these technocrats are candidates for various positions, such as senator and even president. They have even set things up for themselves. They have set the political parties aside and have nominated delegates, vice-delegates, and mayors in the various departments, and they are senatorial candidates. They are preparing their election campaigns by setting things up on behalf of a certain “neutral” transition.
As I told you, we have become hardened. We have seen how civil society took power in 1990. It is more or less the same diagram, except there are a few changes. We think that the country must take another direction. The country must be able to become normalized. Civil society must play its role in society. We need it.
We also need the political parties for democracy, because it is the responsibility of the political parties to submit candidates and to lead the country.
Q. In conclusion, Dr Blot, you have visibly identified what is going on. This means that there is an enemy. There is a group that is here and that wants to take advantage of the efforts of the people as a whole, of the young people, of the people who agreed at some point to struggle for a new society.
A. In 1990, there was the same problem, but we had the Concerted Action Assembly that sealed the gaps. In spite of my efforts, the Democratic Platform of the Political Parties and Civil Society has dissolved itself. There have never been meetings.
As for us, we propose that the Follow-Up Committee should seal these gaps. Therefore, we hope to meet the CEP and see what is possible, because I think that everyone within the CEP would like to hold elections, because the students have expectations, the Haitian people have expectations, civil society has expectations, the politicians have expectations.
There is also the international community. Everybody has made an efforts to get us to get rid of that government, which was veering more and more towards dictatorship. Today, what is being settled are state matters. So, we cannot rely on pieces of gossip, on questions of interpersonal relations in order to cause difficulties for the country, to return it to a crisis situation.
I think we must make every effort today to find a certain conciliation, to play the role of conciliators between these various camps. I think that if the Presidency plays its role, if the Prime Minister’s Office plays its role, if the CS plays its role, if the Follow-Up Committee plays its role, we shall be able to find a solution, a compromise between the various players.
The conflict among the members of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) continues after the president of this institution unilaterally hired forty-three staff members without the consent of the other council members. Several sectors have issued calls for the CEP members to put an end to this conflict, which is tarnishing the CEP’s image. CEP member Patrick Fequiere defends the appointments that the CEP president made, but her decision is criticized by the other members. Fequiere, who represents the nonaligned parties in the CEP, explains that CEP President Roselaure Julien had invited the other members to submit resumes of candidates to the administration service. He points out that the CEP president accepted two of the candidates that he presented. Fequiere said, “The CEP president had asked us to bring a list of names of candidates. I gave a list of names and two or three other councillors brought a list too. I do not think that they accepted all the candidates that I presented because the president had decided to do an evaluation. But I did not know how that was being done then. I learned about it later. Anyway, I learned that they accepted some of the candidates that I presented.”
Pauris Jean-Baptiste, a member of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), once again denounces the attitude of CEP President Julien concerning the hiring of employees.
The CEP members seem to be trying to resolve their conflict. They are apparently considering using the internal regulations that were drawn up by the former provisional council of 2001.
The National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) calls for all of the CEP members to resign as a way to put an end to the crisis.
Pauris Jean-Baptiste, a member of the Provisional Electoral Council, has denounced again denounces the attitude of CEP President Mrs Roselaure Julien concerning the taking on of staff. Pastor Jean-Baptiste, who represents the Protestant sector, believes that it is essential that Mrs Julien must reverse her decision in order to move the electoral process forward. Pastor Jean-Baptiste talked to Wendell Theodore as follows:
A. The CEP president appointed a series of people to key posts such as electoral operations and accounting. And she did this without prior consultation with the other members and without getting their approval. In other words, she made a unilateral decision. We brought up this problem during one of our meetings where we affirmed that the appointments were not made in accordance with the rules and we asked her to reverse her decision.
Q. You said that it was a question of principle. You referred to the past when saying that. Does that mean that it is a problem that you are now trying to resolve? And did the president promise to change her mind?
A. I referred to the past because we had already raised this issue in our meeting and we agreed for her to undo what was done. Now, we were just trying to find a way for the changes to be made without having to upset anybody. So, it is in this sense that I used the past tense.
Unfortunately, and I am really sorry about this, the president made public statements saying that I am a spy. Anyway, I do not want to talk about that again. But since she accused me and made a value judgment about me I had to clarify the situation.