Without a doubt, the Haitian Parliament rejection of Daniel-Gérard Rouzier as the country’s prime minister on June 21st dealt an additional blow to the Haiti Reconstruction Project which seems to have stalled since it began to function on June 17, 2010. For the millions of Haitians who have been waiting impatiently to see the Reconstruction moving forward, the vote was anticlimactic. Though many Haitians were understandably angry and frustrated, the legislators’ action was justified and in conformity with Parliament’s constitutional prerogatives. History might record this vote as a milestone in the principle of separation of powers in Haiti, as Michel Martelly, fresh from his electoral victory, adopted a cavalier attitude toward the opposition-controlled parliament. In essence, it was a necessary step toward breaking the executive branch’s arrogance that has turned the country into a playground for strongmen. The next step would be for the legislators to insist on a supervisory role over the supranational Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF) that doubles as a conduit for the sinister objectives of the elite and international finance.
As expected the Web was abuzz with vitriolic remarks toward the legislators who stood accused of insensitivity to the plight of their countrymen or worse. But isn’t the legislators’ rejection of Rouzier’s nomination in line with the implementation of the “rule of law” which the president, Michel Martelly, has vowed to institute in the notoriously lawless country? With the stickling points being tax evasion and misgivings about the nominee’s nationality, the legislators’ action should not be the end of the matter. Besides the unwarranted foreign interferences in the internal affairs of the country, the Rouzier episode is at the core of what is wrong with Haiti: endemic corruption, arrogance, and impunity. How can Daniel-Gérard Rouzier explain not paying taxes for the last three years? What about his flagrant disregard for the country’s Constitution which explicitly forbids any Haitian who has acquired another nationality from becoming prime minister? Though his accountant could be made to take the fall for the tax evasion, Rouzier’s unsuccessful bid to becoming prime minister, while holding a foreign nationality, epitomizes the arrogance which the Haitian elite is famous for. Like many children of well-to-do Haitians, it is quite possible that he was actually born overseas rather than Haiti.
Building the administrative, political, and legal foundation of a modern state is an infinite process. It involves a firm commitment by the state to protecting the rights of its constituent groups and erecting barriers to deter repeated malevolent actions by groups or individuals. The Rouzier fiasco should not have happened, as the Rudolph Henry Boulos affair should have served as a catalyst for the adoption of a legislation that criminalizes “willful intent to violate the Constitution”, the supreme law of the land. In 2008, Rudolph Boulos, a scion of one of Haiti’s most powerful families, was forced to resign his senate seat due to the fact that he was a US citizen, therefore ineligible to seek and hold elective offices in Haiti. Strangely enough, the judicial system did not follow through with his prosecution which would have served as a deterrent to other would be impostors. Either the legal mechanism did not exist or most importantly the Boulos family influence was too much for the state to bear.
As a result of this go along get along attitude of the political class, nothing was done to prevent such embarrassing incident from recurring, and Daniel-Gérard Rouzier, the man, who would have become the second most important personality in the country, never felt the need to abide by the Constitution. Contextually many individuals, who sit on the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF) governing board (the supranational entity in charge of the reconstruction) as legitimate representatives of the Haitian people and their interests, are in fact foreign citizens owing allegiance to other countries. This is an anomaly that must be corrected as it contradicts the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enumerated in the United Nations Charter and makes a mockery of that organization.” Not tacking this important issue amounts to accepting international supervision by proxy which forms the essence of the UN policy in Haiti.
A thorough investigation of the matter is a necessary step toward establishing the “rule of law” in Haiti. If, Daniel-Gérard Rouzier is found to have willfully concealed his foreign nationality, which makes him ineligible for the post of prime minister under the Constitution, he should be prosecuted for the offense. Likewise, Michel Martelly should be made to answer for showing disrespect to the Constitution (intended or not) which, as president, he has sworn to protect because he failed to apply due diligence in vetting his nominee. The fact that neither the president nor Daniel-Gérard Rouzier, who advocated “Establishing a free trade/free port regime with zero import tariffs”, has apologized to the nation for the awkward affair is proof that the system of impunity that characterizes Haitian history will endure.
Indeed there are a million of other pressing issues that should be of concerns to the president and the legislators; no full-blooded Haitian can dispute that fact. However, stability and prosperity can never be achieved under the current framework which binds Haiti to an uncertain future. As Daniel-Gérard Rouzier said in his testimony before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on March 18th 2004 “Stability can only come through institution building.” For once, he, Daniel-Gérard Rouzier, was right.