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Post-Duvalier Haiti: a History of Missed Opportunities

The last missed opportunity may be the amended constitution which President Martelly seems reluctant to publish despite an earlier pledge to do so. It looks more and more improbable that our 24-year-old constitution would go through its first, long overdue, amendment.

Bishop Louis Kebreau wearing his fake nationalist hat is badgering the president not to cave in under the false pretext that troubles may ensue. This bishop has company: A cadre of the leaders of the democratic movement in the past 25 years has coalesced to demand that President Martelly put an end to this process and submit another amendment in 4 years.

This position again reflects one of the many factors to explicate Haiti’s messy predicament. Lack of vision is one, and since 1986 the weak democratic credentials of the democratic movement, should be cited as the causes of our misfortune. Martelly’s election last May only added salt to the historical wounds festering Haiti’s wretched political body.

I am angry, and you should, too. Not that an amended constitution will invigorate that much our feeble democratic process or shed all the exclusionary articles and the nonsense clauses that Professor Myrlande Manigat has so brilliantly exposed in his book on the 1987 Constitution.

(Now before I proceed to explain the inexplicable, how to explain Madame Manigat’s impenetrable dichotomy: the academic effortlessly embracing the truth and the politician inexplicably adopting positions that are often marinated in the putrid sauce of self-righteousness.) Ah, the Manigat!

Early on his second presidential term President René Préval formed a commission charged to formulate some recommendations to amend the 24-year- old constitution. This commission was chaired by Professor Claude Moise, a brilliant intellectual who has written a few books and articles on the constitutions of the country.

As expected, a chorus of politicians arose to register their opposition to the process, even before the first words were pronounced. Well, the political context at the time was, at best, poisonous and René Préval did almost nothing to assuage the fears of the opposition. In all fairness to the president, there was not much he could have done to reassure the recalcitrant opposition.

Be that as it may, this commission did a relatively good job. It toured the country and the Diaspora, which led to the publication of a paper that didn’t do justice to all the right ideas that have been floating around this issue. However, this paper distilled or fleshed out some good ideas the executive and the Legislature used to amend the constitution.

Both chambers of the Parliament voted overwhelmingly to amend the constitution. It was far from what was needed but it was something to build from. A more reasonable process to form the permanent electoral body, a more inclusive position on the nationality issue, a constitutional court to arbitrate all the legal issues among our key political constitutions, a more prominent political and administrative role for women are among some of the positive aspects of this amended constitution.

The nonsense of being in the country for at least three years before contesting any election and the nonsense of excluding those who take on an additional nationality while including their children are still part of the amended constitution. Outrageous doesn’t even begin to describe the maintenance of some of the above articles.

The amendment was published last year in the Monitor under Préval. Some errors incomprehensibly had crept up in the document. However, the Parliamentarians late last year reconvened, identified the mistakes and forwarded the finalized document for Martelly to publish. That’s all he has to do but his concern now is to find out why these mistakes were introduced in the first place. When does this political buffoonery end?

Michel Martelly’s unsuccessful attempt to get both chambers to allow a president to serve two straight terms is one reason for his refusal to publish this document. But the fundamental reason, the elephant in the room, is this viciously abnormal hatred of the Diaspora, this unwillingness for the locals to be inclusive of the Diaspora.

This is the bigger aspect of the scandal: how is it that some non-elected individuals are bent on superseding the decision of the elected leaders of the country? This is, simply, unbelievable.

Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
May. 05, 2012

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