vendredi 5 février 2016

Haiti urgently needs international help overcoming its political crisis

A supporter of presidential candidate Jovenel Moise
waves a Haitian national flag during a march to demand
elections be reinstated, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti,
on Feb. 2. (Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press)
By Editorial Board February 3

AFTER MONTHS of mounting instability and political violence, Haiti now is days away from a full-bore leadership crisis. The way out of the impasse is unclear. What is clear is that the current, failed president, Michel Martelly, must go.

Under Haiti’s constitution, Mr. Martelly, who took office in 2011, must step down when his term ends Sunday. However, a runoff election to choose his successor was canceled amid street protests and political upheaval last month, leaving no alternate date for a vote and no plan for a democratic transition.

Now Mr. Martelly is suggesting that he may remain in office if there is no consensus on replacing him. That should be a non-starter, given his record of thuggish conduct, mismanagement and poor governance, his contempt for democratic processes, and his complicity in leading the country into its current dead end. Should Mr. Martelly be permitted to retain power, there is every reason to fear that Haiti, with its history of political turmoil, would be in danger of bloody upheaval. The international community cannot allow that to happen.

There are a number of conceivable exits from the stalemate. None of them would be easily arranged in the absence of strong institutions and trusted legal bodies in Haiti. Any chance of a peaceful resolution will require timely and assertive diplomacy by the Organization of American States, the United States and other influential international actors.

One way forward would be the formation of an interim government — ideally chosen by the National Assembly, not by Mr. Martelly — charged with promptly overseeing new elections. Such a transition might be led by a Haitian Supreme Court justice, by Senate President Jocelerme Privert, by former president René Préval or by another respected figure, and would need to reorganize Haiti’s discredited electoral commission so the country can proceed to a new vote.

Granted, no such interim government would enjoy complete constitutional legitimacy, and there are precious few public figures in Haiti who enjoy broad public backing. Unfortunately, Mr. Martelly is not among them.

If an interim government is constituted, its sole task should be to organize elections as quickly as possible. That would be a difficult job given that six of Haiti’s nine electoral council members have resigned. Moreover, the country’s contentious political culture, poisoned by the autocratic Mr. Martelly, is ill-suited to compromise.

That’s why a strong international hand is required, one that can encourage or, if necessary, coerce the country’s political, civic and business leaders to come to terms on a Haitian resolution.
The history of international intervention in Haiti’s affairs is mixed, at best, and it is undeniable that many Haitians distrust outside meddling. Still, the uncomfortable truth is that Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest and in some ways most dysfunctional nation, seems ill-equipped for now to manage a transparent democratic transition of leadership on its own. The risk of a vacuum of power is real, and the economy, beset by inflation and a weak currency, is teetering. The country desperately needs an effective government and international help in arranging elections that produce one.


OAS mission chief says Haiti deal is near

- Haitian politicians are close to finding a solution for the country after Feb. 7
- President Michel Martelly will step down by this weekend
- The Organization of American States tells Haitians it’s not the enemy

Haitians dressed as bananas to show their support for organic banana
 farmer and presidential candidate Jovenel Moise, from the PHTK
party, march to demand elections be reinstated, in Port-au-Prince on
Tuesday. Haiti had been scheduled to hold a presidential and legislative
runoff Jan. 24. But the now-splintered provisional electoral council
canceled it for a second time amid the protests and suspicion that the
 first round was marred by widespread fraud favoring Moise,
President Michel Martelly's chosen candidate. 
Dieu Nalio Chery AP

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article58452173.html#storylink=cpy
The head of an Organization of American States special mission to Haiti says he’s confident that all sides will reach a solution in the coming hours on how Haiti will be governed after President Michel Martelly steps down this weekend.
Still, Ronald Sanders, the Antiguan diplomat who is leading the mission and chairs the 35-nation OAS permanent council, concedes that “every day, the goal posts seem to change.”
“There is a different story about what settlement they’re going to reach, as to how they go forward after Feb. 7,” he said. “It’s been a volatile situation.”
On Thursday, Haitian lawmakers finally opened the 50th legislature. And while Senate President Jocelerme Privert, who also served as president of the National Assembly, acknowledged the imminent presidential vacuum, no decision was taken on how to address it. That could happen Saturday.
The OAS mission arrived in Haiti on Sunday at the request of Martelly, who asked the OAS to authorize a special mission following the indefinite suspension of a runoff election to choose a successor before the Feb. 7 constitutional deadline for him to leave office. Martelly also made the same request to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which authorized a smaller mission that flew in and out of Haiti over two days to meet with the president, his presidential pick Jovenel Moïse, and leaders of parliament.
Despite the delicate nature of the discussions, Sanders said he was hopeful a peaceful settlement would soon be reached.
“I am as confident as one can be in these circumstances that the deal that is now on the table will probably come to fruition on Feb. 7,” Sanders told the Miami Herald in an interview from Port-au-Prince. He is scheduled to leave Haiti Friday.
Current negotiations focus on an interim president taking the reins, with current Prime Minister Evans Paul staying until he is either ratified by parliament or a new consensus prime minister is chosen to lead a caretaker government until the runoff is held.
Martelly will leave office by Feb. 7. That point was stressed both by Sanders in private talks with the president, and by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, who took to Twitter this week to stress the point. Some members of the president’s entourage have suggested that he could remain in office until May 14, the date he was sworn in five years ago.
Who will be interim president and how that will be decided remains up in the air.
While Haiti’s constitution doesn’t provide a clear road map for the current situation, Sanders said both leaders of parliament have told him and the other members of the OAS special mission they are going to “try and get to as close as they can to the constitution” for a solution.
“As they said to me, and I accept, ‘This is an exceptional situation requiring an exceptional solution,’ ” Sanders said. “What I am pleased about is that it is they who are finding the solution. They are working together, desperately trying to get to a solution and that is the best thing that can happen. It is not a solution that anyone imposes on them; it is one that they devised, formulate, and it will be up to them to implement it.”
But while an agreement would take Haitians and the international community over the immediate emergency, there is still the issue of the presidential and partial legislative runoffs. The vote was supposed to happen on Jan. 24, but was postponed amid fraud allegations that sparked violent street protests and a boycott by opposition presidential candidate Jude Célestin.
An opposition alliance of eight presidential candidates, of which Célestin is part, refused to meet with the OAS. Sanders, however, said he has met privately with some members to get their view of the crisis.
Prior to the mission’s arrival, the alliance had said that it was not welcomed in the country and not needed to “meddle” in Haiti’s affairs. Sanders stressed that the role of the mission is not to interfere in the internal affairs of Haiti but support Haitians finding “a Haitian solution” to the crisis.
He said he used his meetings with senators, business leaders, and others to try to correct “a lot of false ideas” about the OAS and its role in the disputed 2010 presidential vote. That election was also marred by allegations of fraud in favor of then government-backed candidate, Célestin. The OAS was called in to verify the vote count, and Martelly was moved into the runoff spot in lieu of Célestin.
Whoever is put in charge of Haiti’s caretaker government will have to find a way to address the electoral crisis in order to allow for the vote to happen by April 14, and a new president to be sworn in by May 14, under the agreement being discussed.
A poll released Wednesday by the Brazil-based Igarape Institute, an independent research group, says despite deep voter disenchantment, most Haitians would vote if they had confidence that elections were fair. The poll was conducted prior to the scheduled Jan. 24 runoff and surveyed 1,766 randomly chosen adults across Haiti. It had a margin of error of about three percentage points.
Sanders said he doesn’t believe anyone can stop the anti-election protests, noting that “people who have a vested interest in running for the presidency will try and take advantage of any vacuum to continue their campaigns. That is going to happen anyway.”
“People who are in a political fight, struggle, they are going to remain in it,” he said. “This country is ready for an election. The people of this country want an election to put an end to this matter so that their lives can continue. At the moment, it’s dominated by the election.”
“Everybody recognizes that the sooner the election can be held, the better,” he said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article58452173.html#storylink=cpy