Accord to Break Electoral Council Stand-Off between Martelly and Parliament Appears “Stillborn”

by Isabelle L. Papillon (Haiti Liberte)
Poor governance, disregard of
Haiti’s laws, a tendency to ride roughshod over other institutions and branches
of government, and a lack of a spirit of compromise from the right-wing regime
headed by President Joseph Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Salvador
Lamothe, with the support of the U.S., France, and Canada, have plunged Haiti
for months into a political crisis.

crisis is escalating from day to day since the installation of a so-called
“Permanent Electoral Council” (CEP) of six members, based in
Pétion-ville. The Constitution only allows a nine member Electoral Council.
Senate is missing one-third of its 30 Senators since their terms expired last
May. Therefore, the legislative branch is unable to appoint members to the CEP
under the articles of the 1987 amended Constitution.
a few months, talks were held between the executive and the legislature,
mediated by  of a group of clerics called
Platform of Religions for Peace Haiti. They searched for a formula to form an
Electoral Council that would be acceptable to all parties.
on Dec. 24, an agreement was signed between some parliamentarians and executive
branch representatives proposing the formation of a body to temporarily manage
the Permanent Electoral Council, known as the “Transitional College of the
Permanent Electoral Council.” This formula respects neither the letter nor
spirit of the Haitian Constitution which recognizes only two types of Electoral
Council: provisional or permanent.
from across the political spectrum are calling the Christmas Eve deal either an
“agreement of disagreement” or a “stillborn agreement.” Meanwhile, Haiti’s more
radical popular organizations have already declared the only thing they will
agree to is Martelly’s departure as head of state.
what does this agreement say? It is signed by five parliamentarians: Senators
Jean William Jeanty, Jocelerme Privert, François Lucas Sainvil, and Deputies
Wikens Dérilus and Guerda Bellevue Benjamin. Also signing were Gregory
Mayard-Paul, an advisor to President Martelly, who was not part of the
Presidential Commission engaged in discussions, and Bishop Pierre André Dumas,
representing the mediators, Religions for Peace Haiti.
is the text of the agreement: “Article 1
– There will be formed a body to temporarily manage the Permanent Electoral
Council in order to organize the next elections. Article 2 – Its name is: Transitional College of the Permanent
Electoral Council. It is composed of nine members, three are appointed by the
legislative power, three by the Executive, and three by the High Council of the
Judiciary. Article 3 – The mandate
of the Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council shall end with
the proclamation of the final results of the elections. Article 4 – In the framework of this agreement, the Executive, if
circumstances require, may obtain the withdrawal of any or all of its
representatives already appointed and installed in the Permanent Electoral
Council. Article 5 – The Platform
Religions for Peace Haiti will lead, with the assistance of the executive and
legislative powers, talks needed to enable the Superior Council of the
Judiciary to solve the problem with the appointment of its representatives in
the electoral institution . Article 6
The Legislative Branch undertakes, once the agreement is signed, to hold an
extraordinary National Assembly, remaining pending, for the purpose of
initiating the process of appointing its representatives to the Transitional
College, according to the procedure adopted by the Parliament. Article 7 – Ongoing dialogue will be
maintained between the parties to ensure that the Protocol is followed, as it
takes effect upon its signing and holds the parties responsible.”
the Parliament, both the majority or minority blocs in the Chamber of Deputies
rejected the agreement. The majority bloc is called the Parliamentarians for
Stability and Progress (PSP), but its critics give it the nickname
“Parliamentarians on the Payroll of the National Palace” because it is so close
to the Martelly/Lamothe government. Nonetheless, Jean Tolbert Alexis, the PSP’s
president stated that “the proposal of the Senators does not commit the
Chamber of Deputies, much less the PSP. Parliament’s power cannot be delegated.
We will not choose based on proposals from civil society.”
PSP spokesman, Descolines Abel, also expressed unease about the government’s
posture. He noted that there was no Christmas-time distribution of food and
gifts to the poor, as the Haitian government traditionally does.
the Parliamentarians for Institutional Respect (PRI), the deputies’ minority
bloc, said the Dec. 24 deal does not contribute to progress towards the
resolution of the crisis. Levaillant Louis-Jeune, president of the Chamber of
Deputies, refuses to endorse the agreement and called on politicians to
mobilize to defeat this “evil plan” which is against the interests of the
nation. “This protocol of accord is a non-agreement,” he said. “The
holding of elections is not on President Martelly’s agenda. His goal is to make
the Parliament obsolete in order to rule by decree. With the signing of this
document, we have taken steps backward.”
former President of the Lower House, Sorel Jacinthe, called it “a stillborn
agreement” and “a mere leaflet because it was signed by people who have no
authority to commit the institutions of the republic.” According to him, this
agreement is “flawed both in form and in the content” and does “not respect the
principles of government.”
Moïse Jean-Charles sees the agreement as “a trap, the starting point of a sham
election,” and “a signed blank check to President Martelly, to allow him to
take full control of the CEP.” He called for concerted action to defeat this
agreement. His opinion matches that of the leaders of Haiti’s popular
organizations who declared: “The Haitian people have already concluded
their agreement that Michel Joseph Martelly should step down as head of
months, Sen. Moïse has called for the formation of a compromise Provisional
Electoral Council, which is essentially the formula which has been used in
Haiti’s elections over the past 25 years.
leaders of the largest political parties and platforms also denounced the
agreement. One of the Executive Board members of the political platform INITE,
Paul Denis, who has solidly anti-Lavalas political credentials, lashed out at
the deal. “This agreement is full of disagreement,” he said. “The problem
is not the name of the electoral institution, but that its credibility is
called into question.”
seems to be general agreement that this supposed deal between Parliament and
the Executive is nothing more than a poisoned Christmas gift. Questions abound:
what happens with the six members of the so-called Permanent Electoral Council
already installed? What about the six representatives of the controversial High
Council of the Judiciary, which is universally considered to have been
illegally formed and to be a mere puppet of Martelly’s executive branch? And
what about the current CEP’s President, Josué Pierre-Louis, who stands accused
of raping his subordinate Danielle Marie Bernadin? Can a credible CEP have an
alleged rapist as its head?
4 of the agreement provides no guarantee that the Executive must withdraw its
representatives from the CEP. Meanwhile, it is totally unclear how the
Parliament is to appoint its CEP representatives.
of this augurs a tumultuous opening of the first ordinary session of the 2013
Parliament, to be held on Jan. 14. Meanwhile, grassroots organizations from
Gonaïves to Port-au-Prince have called for a large anti-Martelly march on Jan.
1. The demonstrators will gather at 9:00 a.m. in front of the ruins of St. Jean
Bosco Church on Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines in the capital. They will
march to demand Martelly’s resignation.
The Executive’s representative Gregory Mayard-Paul (left) shakes hands
with Sen. Jean William Jeanty after the signing on Dec. 24 of a much-contested
accord creating a “Transitional College of the Permanent Electoral Council.”
Photo by CanalplusHaiti