Originally: Seeds of Self-Destruction Within the CEP

Exclusive translation by Haiti Democracy Project

“Getting out of legality is nothing, but getting back into it is essential,” said the true Wise Men of the past. Since Professor Leslie Francois Manigat left power in 1988 (as the constitutional president, in spite of the quotation marks around his “election”), the Republic of Haiti exited constitutional legality and never returned to it. Many attempts to return to the constitutional order proved futile and unsuccessful, and for good reasons. Whether by governments, political leaders, international organizations, and/or foreign governments, whether by the civil society itself, all those efforts and decisions to return to the constitutional order have failed. To achieve success, two scenarios were, and still are possible:

First Scenario ? This would be the traditional, historical, and revolutionary Haitian procedure consisting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly responsible for writing a new Constitution or revising the current one ? which, at this time, may be inapplicable or obsolete. If, in spite of all, we still want this scenario, a National Conference (General Assembly) will then be mandatory to listen to the demands from the different sectors of the nation, in light of the current trends in the world and the role that we want for the Haitian people in the context of globalization.

Second Scenario ? While acknowledging that the current Constitution is definitely obsolete, use it anyway as a reference, in its letter and spirit, for the necessary procedures to implement the government’s decisions. In each specific case, the best choice would be to refer either to transitory articles, or to different articles currently applicable, to find the necessary provisions.

Several points need to be taken into account. The departure of the deposed president, on February 29, 2004, was not the outcome of a political agreement about a mutually accepted and orderly transition from the Lavalas regime, in spite of the quiet inauguration of a provisional president who, according the the U.S. Ambassador – an attendant and participant in the ceremony – was consistent with the provisions of the Constitution (Art. 149); in spite of the creation of a Tripartite Commission and a Council of Eminent Persons without any reference in the legislation or even in the political arrangement of that time (no reference in the Constitution); and also in spite of reservations about the appointment of a transitional Prime Minister (art. 157 of the Constitution), we still say, out of a spirit of patriotism: Let us assume that the problem is solved, and let us move forward in the right direction.

Prime Minister Latortue should not have fallen in the trap of the formation of this CEP, already controversial and harboring the seeds of its own destruction, since the agreement about its formation was obsolete, and therefore null and void. His government did not have to implement this agreement since, in addition to its obsolescence, some of its signatories have been publicly accused, for different major reasons, and put under judicial control.

After all, concerning the current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) responsible for organizing the next elections (which is the object of this writing), the unusual and extraconstitutional political alliance formed by Alexandre-Latortue-Council of Eminent Persons should avoid the pitfalls of the previous governments by acting intelligently and creatively, and should, on the one hand, dissolve the current CEP, and, on the other hand, apply the letter and spirit of the Constitution to appoint a new CEP ? using the Transitional Provisions of the Constitution, and particularly Article 289, which states the following: Until a Permanent Electoral Council is formed, as provided by this Constitution, the National Council of Government shall form a nine-member Provisional Electoral Council responsible for the execution and the preparation of the Electoral Law under which the next elections will take place. The members of the Provisional Electoral Council will be selected as follows:

One member, who shall not be a government employee, designated by the Executive Branch

One member designated by the Episcopal Conference

One member designated by the Advisory Council (Extended Council of Eminent Persons)

One member designated by the Supreme Court

One member designated by Human Rights organizations not participating in the elections

One member designated by the University Council

One member designated by the Association of Journalists

One member designated by the Protestant Churches

One member designated by the National Council for Cooperatives.

The implementation of this Article 289 would, in fact, result in a new CEP formed according to the Constitution.

Those constitutional procedures would allow a rational and durable return to the constitutional order. They would allow to take into account the interests of the political parties and those of the sectors involved in the current political environment. This would be the only guaranteed way to avoid serious and irreparable mistakes that could affect negatively any power emerging from the next elections. Since the CEP formed by the Alexandre-Latortue government is unconstitutional, it is unacceptable and, obviously, does not allow any favorable perspective for the establishment of a true representative democracy, which is the sole prerequisite for the political, social, and economic stability wanted by the large majority of the Haitian people. Under the conditions of its creation and because of its composition, the CEP harbors the seeds of its own destruction; its life expectancy and its success are quite uncertain.

The current government must realize that the CEP’s role is essentially political, not technical, and its composition should reflect its mission. Without underestimating the importance of the current economic crisis, we must acknowledge that the real nature of the Haitian crisis is socio-political and cultural. This should be the focus of the tansitional government, whose success will depend upon its ability to meet the challenge with a quality response ? meaning a product or service meeting the expectation of the customers, who, in this case are the citizens.

By systematically withdrawing the current, new-style CEP, and replacing it with a new one meeting the requirements of the Constitution (articles 288 and 289), the government, the political parties, the civil society, and Haiti’s friends will act in the best interest of our dear country, who has such a need for its sons, daughters, and well-intended traditional partners.

May Haiti survive, beyond the narrow interests of persons, particular groups, or geopolitical entities!!!