Originally: Pour un candidat unique à la Présidence de la Nouvelle Convergence Démocratique
After the electoral coup of Preval and Aristide in 2000, Haitians had the good sense to create the Democratic Convergence, a center of resistance to the dictatorship, grouping the principal parties of the right and left. In the same way today we must have the sense to unite against the serious threat of a return to arbitrary rule.
This proposal to rally the democratic sector does not undermine our belief, which I share with my friends in the Fusion coalition, in the need to include the personalities from the former dictatorships, whether Aristide’s, military, or Duvalierist, in the transition that will begin on February 7, 2006. However, the leadership of the democratic transition must come from the democratic sector, whether left or right. It must be people imbued with the principles and values of a state of law, which was trampled underfoot by the preceding regimes.
In other words, the people like René Préval, Marc Bazin, Gérald Gilles, Franck Romain, to cite just a few, have an important role to play in the transition that begins next February 7, but I don’t believe that they can do this at the head of what they and the population consider to be the leading state position, namely the presidency, for the simple reason that the forces of the past, wherever they come from, will inevitably drag them back to their old ways. I repeat that the place for these personalities of the old regimes is to defend their political sectors and make sure that they are not excluded in the transition and the rebuilding. But with them in a position of command, we risk falling into the same adventures in arbitrariness.
The transition is above all the task of the political parties who seek via negotiation to create the stability for creating and applying public policies benefiting the population. This is why in all the countries making the transition from dictatorship to democracy, e.g. the former Communist countries or fascist dictatorships of Europe and Latin America, it is the democratic political parties who have negotiated the different stages allowing consolidation of a liberal democracy.
It requires the courage of the democratic leaders of the political parties and the key actors of the structures of the old authoritarian regime to make the necessary agreements so that the new democratic regime in gestation can be consolidated.
It also requires that we not be outmaneuvered and that we guard against the practices of the old model, the dictatorships.
We have to make sure that we don’t have the arrival or return at the head of the country of a personality from the past without any real attachment to a political party, as this wouldn’t help in consolidating democracy. We must form a new Democratic Convergence to strengthen ourselves for winning the presidency and in the negotiations to come.
“Those who don’t have any vision, the road will open their eyes.” This was said by a leader of the former Democratic Convergence who cited the fact that his colleagues did not wish to transform the political coalition of resistance to the Preval-Aristide dictatorship into a unified grouping to win the coming elections.
Now the distressing spectacle of fifty-four candidates for the presidency is a clear answer to those among us in the Democratic Convergence who refused this electoral grouping. The argument which carried the day was that Aristide had been beaten by a formidable popular and institutional movement of the civil society and the difference parties making up the Convergence could now compete for the votes of the population. This way we would know the strengths of the various components.
We did not foresee, to begin with, the plethora of independent candidates (fourteen). We didn’t foresee the appearance of thirty personalities and parties, the majority of whom accommodated to the Aristide dictatorship and who wish now to effortlessly benefit from the Convergence’s work of resistance. On top of this, we didn’t foresee the eventuality of return to dictatorship under five different forms: René Préval (Espoir), Marc Bazin (Fanmi Lavalas 1), Louis Gérald Gilles (Fanmi Lavalas 2), Jean-Marie Cherestal (Pont), Dumarsais Siméus (look at who are his advisers and you will understand). Don’t be surprised if at a given moment one of these personalities lends his support to another one after suggestions, instructions, or threats from Jean-Bertrand Aristide, without any concern for the interest of democracy and the population, particularly the poorest.
For a single candidate of the new Democratic Convergence
The result of the division of the democratic camp (left and right) is the risk that it will not make it to the second round of the presidential election. Faced with a populist of the left, the voters might choose a populist of the right. The political parties, excluded from the presidency, the struggle for freedom, for free elections, will find themselves in a new situation of ungovernability.
There are seven candidates for the presidency of the parties coming out of the old Convergence: OPL, Alyans (KID, Génération 2004), FUSION (PANPRA, KONAKOM, Ayiti Kapab), Grand Front Centre Droit, RDNP, MOCHRENA, and PADEMH. If these parties combine against the populist enemy, a dozen candidates of the former nonaligned-parties’ grouping as well as the former members of the Resistance Front can come into a democratic alternative to be placed before the electorate.
Agreement on distribution of responsibilities in the executive branch, parliament, and local government
Better late than never! At the moment these lines are being written, it is too late to have single candidates for the senate, lower house, and local posts. Too many of the activists and supporters of the Convergence parties are running under one or another banner. However, at the level of the presidency, such a single candidacy can still be effected.
Since we are in the political domain, that is the domain of negotiation, the future state partners can discuss apportioning the responsibilities and posts emanating from the president and prime minister.
The agreement should follow article 137 of the constitution which calls for the prime minister to be chosen from the party holding the majority in parliament. The member parties of the new Democratic Convergence should form a majority in parliament around a common program. Now each party is trying to win as many posts as it can, but after the election they can form a bloc to choose the prime minister and members of the government.
Pick Up the Fallen Banner
In conclusion there are many of us in the Fusion who agree on the necessity of finding a way to create an emotional and electric shock first for the political class and then the voting population, confused by these fifty-four candidates, in order to renew confidence in the importance of their vote.
This renaissance of the Democratic Convergence will attract the other political parties, the former nonaligned ones as well as those who took up arms against the dictatorship and are now putting forward a presidential candidate.
At that moment, the different components of civil society, encouraged by this will for unity, will find the ways and means to support this new source of hope.