by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
On. Sep. 9, Haiti’s most outspoken opposition senator and leading popular organizations announced that they would hold a national conference in Port-au-Prince on Sep. 29 to forge an alliance and map out a path to forming a provisional government to replace President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
On Sep. 3, the eight popular organizations had called on Haiti’s deputies to indict Martelly and Lamothe for, among other things, personally making threats on Jul. 11 against a judge investigating government corruption, thereby inducing his death two days later (see Haïti Liberté, Vol. 7, No. 8, Sep. 4, 2013). On Sep. 6, thirteen deputies did formally submit an indictment in Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies, buttressing two separate parliamentary Special Commissions of Inquiry which had already recommended that Martelly and Lamothe be removed from office in reports issued on Aug. 8 and Aug. 23.
Citing the President’s flagrant sabotage in a judicial investigation, as well as his “perjury” and “treason” in the ensuing cover-up, the draft indictment called for “the impeachment of the President of the Republic and the dismissal of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice and Public Security to be carried out by the High Court of Justice,” constituted by the Senate.
Unfortunately, the Chamber of Deputies never took up the Special Commissions’ reports or the draft indictment before it adjourned on Sep. 9 for four months, not to resume its work until Jan. 14, 2014. At that point, however, there are many indications that Martelly may try to dissolve the Parliament and rule by decree.
“We are in a Parliament in which we cannot exercise our supervisory powers” of the executive because “there is rampant corruption particularly in the Chamber of Deputies,” explained Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles during the Sep. 9 press conference.
Sharing the stage with the senator were human rights lawyer Mario Joseph of the Office of International Lawyers (BAI), representing the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), and Oxygène David of the National Movement for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity of Haitians (MOLEGHAF).
“We call on the people to rise up,” Joseph said. “We have to prepare to replace the Martelly/Lamothe government. And we have to finish with the foreign military occupation of Haiti. We don’t want the MINUSTAH [UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti]. We can govern ourselves by putting in place a government of national unity to organize elections which are free, honest, and above all sovereign.”
Following the Sep. 29 Popular Forum, which will be held at the Plaza Hotel in Port-au-Prince, there will be a major march through the capital on Sep. 30 to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the 1991 coup d’état against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Oxygène David, who spent over two months in jail without charges last year after being singled out for arrest during a regular peaceful protest, recalled that Sep. 11 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1988 St. Jean Bosco massacre, during which armed soldiers and thugs massacred 33 church-goers after a mass held by Aristide, who was then a Catholic priest. The burned out shell of the church remains the usual starting point for pro-democracy demonstrations to this day.
“Every day, Martelly’s regime shows itself to be more arrogant and lawless,” David said, pointing out that the current government protects and incorporates many of the criminals who carried out massacres, coups, and other human rights violations. “Today we see the veritable murder of Judge Jean Serge Joseph [who was investigating government corruption], the arbitrary arrest of the two brothers Florestal [who brought the original corruption lawsuit against the government], and the attempted arrest of lawyers André Michel and Newton Saint-Juste [who represent the Florestals]. Meanwhile, the international community, through its local ruling-class lackeys, is trying to impose elections to disguise their hand-me-down democracy (demokrasi pepe), which was illegally imposed. We need a general mobilization to hold all the necessary meetings and take all the necessary steps to stop Martelly’s dictatorship and establish a provisional government capable of holding free elections.”
Flanking the speakers were representatives of other organizations joining the call including the Heads Together of Popular Organizations, the Great Space Reflection for Social Integration (GERES), the Organization of Young Progressives of Pouplar Avenue, the National Popular Platform (PNP), the Movement for the Survival of the Haitian Society (MOSSOH), and the Awakened Militants for Another Haiti (MRH).
“No election is possible with this regime at the head of the country,” said Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, who attracted most of the capital’s media to the press conference just as he does crowds in the street. “It is charged with involvement in so many criminal and immoral acts that threaten the future of the Haitian people. It is also unbelievable that certain sectors of the international community and the traditional political class, despite all the outrages of the Martelly regime, continue to call for elections under his leadership.”
Moïse called the last-minute electoral bill being voted on that day in Parliament “demagoguery” and charged that “Martelly has a project to dissolve parliament and restore a dictatorial regime against the people of Haiti.”
Other popular organizations in the capital have called for anti-Martelly demonstrations on Sep. 11 and 12. Sep. 11 also marks the 20th anniversary of crusading democracy activist Antoine Izméry’s 1993 murder while organizing a mass during the 1991-1994 coup to commemorate the St. Jean Bosco massacre.
On Sep. 7, Nippes celebrated the 10th anniversary of its being named as Haiti’s 10th geographic department in September 2003 under the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Thousands turned out for a giant ceremony organized by Aristide’s Lavalas Family party, and Sen. Jean-Charles was one of the speakers. His sharp message that elections are not possible under Martelly electrified the crowd, which ended up carrying him away on its shoulders.