When René Préval invited an OAS technical team to look into the irregularities of the November 28th 2010 presidential election in Haiti in which Michel J. Martelly was fraudulently disqualified by the CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) to make way for Jude Célestin, the governing party candidate, no one thought of broadening the scope of the investigation to include the legislatives. Having established that the results previously announced by the CEP were indeed fraudulent, the OAS technical team recommended or to be more precise ordered that the governing party presidential candidate be excluded from the March 20th run off. Incredibly, no one sought to supervise the team that committed the fraud or instigate a criminal investigation into the matter, even though Article 195 of the 1987 Constitution unequivocally states “In the event of a serious offense committed in the discharge of their duties, the members of the Permanent Electoral Council are liable for prosecution before the High Court of Justice.”
Incidentally, the president-elect and the international community were effusive in their praise for the CEP upon its announcement of the preliminary results on April 4th. Now that the final legislative results are in and the current governing party has a near majority in the chamber of deputies (46 seats out of 99) and a solid majority in the senate (17 seats out of 30), the international community and the president-elect are crying foul. Why this sudden reversal? In light of the overwhelming victory of Michel Martelly and the need for a new beginning, the post of prime minister necessitates new blood, which could not possibly come from the rang of (INITE), which controls a majority in the next Parliament, hence constitutionally entitles to form the next government.
Senator Joseph Lambert, the national coordinator of INITE, was unequivocal about his party prospect: “With this majority, the new president, Michel Martelly, must deal with us. We are in a position to impose a prime minister.” Naturally, his imprudent or rather belligerent statement plus the need for a new beginning may have rattle a few nerves and prompt this latest episode, which is likely to reinforce the notion of Haitians being unreasonable and incapable of governing themselves. True to form, the president-elect is taking a stance consistent with the reliance on the international community and inability to confront internal challenges that characterize Haitian politics for the last 7 years. By appealing to the international community to reject the results involving 18 legislative seats (17 deputies and 1 senator from the governing party), Michel Martelly, the purported outsider, is showing the same characteristics of the politicians he professes to loath. Those poor Haitians who thought they were breaking with the past, although they represented a mere 22.5% of the electorate, are in for a rude awakening.
In light of this latest development, is the international community contemplating the formation of another technical team or postponing the sitting of the new Parliament? With three weeks before the inauguration of the president-elect, another technical team is an unlikely possibility but postponing the sitting of the disputed new members may be in the works. Furthermore, was the OAS technical team’s decision not to investigate the legislative results part of a quid pro quo between René Préval and the international community that backfired? That was probably the case, seeing that Préval had expected his hand-picked candidate to be eliminated, once a thorough review of the voting sheets was completed. Therefore in exchange for allowing the OAS meddling and the eventual disqualification of his party’s presidential candidate, Préval apparently worked out a deal with the international community that effectively restricted the scope of the investigation. Conversely, the international community was banking on the CEP to play fair in light of the riots that followed its botched attempt at subverting the process and the increased vigilance of the electorate, an erroneous assumption that underscores its lack of understanding of the politic of fait accompli practiced by successive generations of Haitian leaders.
Politic is the art of irrationality. Although the CEP fraudulent act is inexcusable, a strong reaction from the international community, such as withholding promised funds for the reconstruction, would only highlight the paternalism and duplicitous nature of its involvement in Haitian affairs. Evidently, the international community was complicit in the matter, because what else can explain the OAS technical team’s decision not to look into the legislative races. Perhaps, the Haitian people will finally see the light and demand an end to the occupation (2004-?), and the love affair between Préval and the international community that has allowed the former to operate at will and subvert the democratic process would come back to haunt the latter.
The latest accusations of fraud (real or imaginary) are part of a political maneuver intended to de-legitimize the majority party and force it to relinquish the coveted post of prime minister to a consensus candidate or, preferably, the president-elect’s own choice. With threats of possible prosecution for corruption or revocation of visas probably on the table, the governing party is expected to capitulate and regroup for future battles. Out of this power play, it is almost certain that the next prime minister will not be able to govern effectively. In the event the 18 contested seats are invalidated, INITE will still have a majority in the senate (16 out of 30), in essence the perfect recipe for gridlock. And the cycle of misery, political turmoil and foreign interference will endure.