Left to themselves, politicians invariably choose the path of self-interest, which naturally differs from the aspirations and needs of their people, especially in countries, such as Haiti, where a system of checks and balances is non-existent. The late French president, Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), could not have said it better “Politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” The drama that followed the November 28th general elections in Haiti proved the point. The decision by René Préval to invite an OAS (Organization of the American States) technical team to sort out the irregularities went beyond his constitutional prerogatives, yet no one saw the rationale behind his move. What followed was a political decision by the OAS technical team that will haunt the country for the next two years. Whoever wins the March 20th vote will be at the mercy of Préval’s INITE party which would have absolute control of both chambers in the next Parliament.
The naked interference and belligerent statements of the international community notwithstanding, the OAS team’s decision left the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), the entity that perpetuated the fraud in the first place, in charge of organizing the run-off. Seeing that fraud was rampant in all the races where government candidates have either won or secured a place in the run-off, the decision, which omitted these races from scrutiny, basically handed over control of the next Parliament to Préval’s political party (INITE). Therefore, the winner is none other than René G. Préval, the man whose overt attempt to subvert the will of the electorate backfired on December 2nd 2010 when supporters of the then-eliminated candidate, Michel Martelly, rioted and demanded the annulment of these elections.
Despite the grandstanding and posturing of members of the CEP trumpeting the nominally independent institution’s adherence to constitutional legalities, they knew that the team-OAS’ decision to override the December 2nd results, which had guaranteed Jude Celestin, the government-backed candidate, a place in the March 20th run-off, could not be countermanded. Accordingly, the drama that unfolded last Wednesday, during which most Haitians were led to believe that a sound legal decision was forthcoming, was for public consumption and nothing else. The team-OAS decision, which came with threats and other public statements that underlined Haiti’s position as an occupied country, also revealed that political expediency trumps the need to fostering the rule of law in that country. Not surprisingly, no one, among the fraudsters of the CEP, will be prosecuted for having violated the public trust and traumatized an entire nation trying to recover from last year’s calamities (earthquake, hurricanes and a cholera epidemic.)
Most importantly, the ensuing delay in electing a president allows René Préval whose term expires on February 7th to carry on as president until his successor is chosen. It is to be expected that the run-off scheduled for March 20th will bring its own set of legal challenges from the defeated candidate, thus extending Préval’s presidency into the May 14th deadline sanctioned by the international community as a concession to his party accepting the elimination of Jude Celestin. For a man suffering from an intrinsic fear of being persecuted once he leaves office, creating distractions for the next president is too good an opportunity to pass on.
The deal that forced the CEP to invalidate its own decision may be the tip of the iceberg. The more time Préval has, the more likely he will sign or accept deals that are detrimental to the interests of the Haitian people. Manigat and Martelly, in all probability, remember Gerard Latortue’s surreptitious trip to New York during which the illegitimate prime minister (2004-06) signed over jurisdictional control of Haiti’s National Police to the MINUSTAH, the week after the country elected a president on February 7th 2006. In that regard, both candidates should pledge to review any decision made by Préval beyond the constitutional deadline of February 7th. Even insignificant matters such as Préval ordering toilet paper for his staff must not escape the scrutiny of the next government, given that the man’s paramount concern remains his own interests.
Currently the future of Haiti hinges on twisted politics and the precept of Manifest Destiny, which apparently run contrary to the aspirations of its people. The extent that the Haitian people have allowed their destiny to be hijacked by unscrupulous politicians and the international community validates the notion that they are complicit in their ordeal. Therefore, any fundamental changes in the way the country is administered will not be forthcoming until the Haitian people decide otherwise and take full control of their destiny. For the international community, elections in Haiti are a means to an end that help legitimize the inhumane conditions existing in Haiti under the cover of a peculiar brand of Democracy, which, of course, is neither inclusive nor fair. The policy works, insofar, as forestalling an upheaval by the masses, however, the global rise in food prices (Haiti imports 80% of its food needs), is a potent factor that could bring down this house of cards.
For 30 years, Egypt lived under a state of emergency and the Egyptians never protested. Economic hardships and rising food prices however provided the catalyst for the current upheaval in that country. Equally, the architects of Economic Liberalism will soon have to deal with its consequences in Haiti which, like Mubarak’s Egypt, suffers from the downside of the system. The house of cards will certainly not survive the onslaught.
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