Assuming Arnel Bélizaire’s version of the October 12 verbal altercations at the National Palace between Michel Martelly and a group of legislators is the unmitigated truth, Haiti has a megalomaniac president in need of constant psychological evaluations. Disagreeing with your opponents is fair game in politics, but lecturing and cursing the lawmakers the way Martelly did are not. This incident is one more reason why a new set of criteria needs to be enshrined into the electoral laws and presidential succession in Haiti to ensure that individuals with questionable psychological abilities are automatically disqualified from holding the office of the presidency. Moreover, with the majority of the electorate made of functional illiterates that can be easily manipulated, the need to strengthen the three pillars of Haiti’s political system (the presidency, legislative and judiciary) and make them impermeable to malevolence of corrupt entities and mentally unstable individuals has become an absolute necessity.
Since learning from past mistakes is the nucleus of good governance, the many instances in which the psychological state of Haiti’s first citizen have been construed as unstable must not be allowed to resurface. The deplorable October 12, 2011 incident notwithstanding, the late Emile Jonassaint (Haiti provisional president May-Oct 1994) would be a poster figure for this needed electoral reform or a constitutional amendment. The once former head of the country’s Supreme Court, who became president under a military-ruled regime (1991-94), not only made the absurd claim of Haiti being the lost Continent of Atlantis but also declared that the Vodou gods will vanquish any presumptive US military invasion intended to restore Democracy in Haiti. The powerful Haitian military had overthrown the country’s first democratically elected president in a bloody coup and negotiations with the sponsor(s) were under way to bring back the exiled president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, to power and restore civilian rule in Haiti.
As you would expect, there is still not a shred of evidence of Haiti having been or being the mythical Continent of Atlantis. Furthermore, for reasons the late Jonassaint (1913-95) never cared to explain to his disappointed followers, the Vodou gods did not even confront the US marines when they landed in Port-au-Prince on September 19, 1994, let alone defeat the invasion. Incredibly, no one saw anything wrong with these loony remarks which validate the occupiers’ racist perception of Haitian leaders as “absolute idiots and scoundrels” that are harming Haiti and its people. Needless to say, with leaders of the caliber of the late Emile Jonassaint, an apostle of nonsense, and Michel Martelly, the current president whose nihilism is a matter of public record, Haiti certainly does not need any enemy.
With these incidents, the time has come for an amended Constitution that spells out the legal mechanism for removing a psychologically unstable president (the framers of the actual document subconsciously or rather deliberately entrusted that vital decision to the discretion of the then-omnipotent but presently defunct Haitian Army). Interestingly enough, Michel Martelly has on November 30th decreed the remobilization of the Haitian Army, which was disbanded in 1995 by then-president Jean Bertrand Aristide without the benefit of a constitutional amendment or a referendum that could have settle the matter in a definite manner. Apparently the opposition-controlled Parliament agrees with his bizarre contention that the demobilization of the Haitian Army (F.A.d’H) was the contributing factor in the destabilization of Haiti which subsequently brought about the occupation (2004-?) by supposedly friendly powers.
Being an accidental president (thanks to the amateurish machinations of his predecessor René Préval that backfired) Michel Martelly remains stuck in the mandatory stage of learning to be president. His imperious pronouncements and actions are an indicator that he may never transition to being civil with his political opponents, a sacrosanct principle in elective politics. His expletive-laced performance at the National Palace, though not a constitutional breach of his presidential oath that would warrant his removal from office, is sure to damage his political standing within a broad spectrum of Haitian society. Despite the presidency’s troubled history, it is nonetheless considered by most Haitians as the most powerful symbol of nationhood and sovereignty (relative). By his actions on October 12, Martelly has sullied the potent symbolism which the presidency represents and ought to apologize to the nation that is condemned to endure his antics for the next four and a half years.
Though I do not believe that political leaders should be morally infallible, a modicum of decency is nonetheless a necessity for a beleaguered nation like Haiti that is grasping at straws to affirm or rather retain its identity in response to the coordinated assault on its existence (2004-?) by the all-powerful UN Security Council. Sadly, Michel Martelly’s un-presidential conduct may be causing more harms to the nation than most people are willing to admit, seeing that it highlights the dysfunctional nature of Haitian politics and provides more ammunitions to the country’s unforgiving detractors.
Now that Haiti finally has a functioning government after months of wrangling between the executive and legislative branches, Michel J. Martelly, the overemotional president, should stay in the background and let Garry Conille, the prime minister, fulfill his constitutional duties and govern the country to the best of his abilities. As the 1987 Constitution does not include the legal mechanism for removing a socially awkward president, Michel Martelly, Haiti’s current first citizen and a Nihilist under any definition, should be marginalized.
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