By Joseph Guyler C. Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — Haiti has now moved closer to organizing crucial elections with the imminent installation of new provisional electoral council and with Haitian President Michel Martelly having the authority to issue an executive order to declare elections in the absence of a functional parliament in the impoverished Caribbean country.
Haitian government authorities, moderate opposition parties and other sectors have joined efforts to facilitate the installation of a consensus government and the holding of crucial presidential, legislative and local elections this year.
The nine members of the electoral council, which will have to organize the ballot, have been proposed by different sectors and institutions of the society, such as the Catholic Episcopal Conference, women’s organizations, the Protestant Church, the business private sector, human rights organizations, workers’ unions, and the media, university and the Voodoo religion sectors.
The nine members of the council — Yolette Mengual, Vijonet Demero, Ricardo Augustin, Pierre Louis Opont, Jaccéus Joseph, Lourdes Edith Joseph, Pierre Manigat Jr., Néhémy Joseph, Lucie Marie Carmel Paul-Austin — will be installed within the next 24 hours.
Several political leaders, whose parties are not part of the consensus government, expressed concern that representatives of rival political parties that integrated the cabinet, could use their position to favor candidates from their political groups, participating in the next elections.
The leader of the moderate opposition People’s Struggle party (OPL), Sauveur Pierre-Etienne, warned against partisan maneuvers during the next elections on the part of cabinet members representing other opposition parties or groups close to the party of president Martelly.
“OPL will fight any member of the government who would try to use public resources to manipulate the vote in favor of their parties’ candidates,” Pierre-Etienne told HCNN on Wednesday.
As a result of recent political negotiations, President Martelly and Prime Minister Evans Paul attributed the Department of Interior and territorial collectivists to the Inité (Unity) opposition party, created by former president René Preval.
“When you attribute to a party such as Inite a department as important as Interior ministry, which directly linked to the organization of the elections, we have a right to be concerned,” said Pierre-Etienne.
President Martelly and Prime Minister Paul have repeatedly warned cabinet members against using public resources and privileges to achieve partisan electoral goals.
The new electoral council is expected to be installed within the next 24 hours, according to sources close to the presidential palace.
The long delay in the organization of the elections have contributed to the dissolution of Parliament where only 10 out 30 senators remain in office, while a quorum of 16 senators is required to hold a session.
The vote of amendments to an existing electoral law to facilitate the elections had been blocked, since April last year, at the senate which has, in the meantime, become dysfunctional. In the absence of a functional Parliament, President Martelly can now issue a decree to declare elections.
In the meantime, opponents of the government reiterated on Wednesday their call for an early departure of President Martelly, who they call a dictator.
“Martelly should leave because he is a dictator. He created the conditions to get rid of parliament so that he may govern by decree and without any control,” said former Deputy Lutherking Marcadieu, a representative of the opposition Sons of Dessalines political platform, led by for senator Jean-Charles Moise.
Marcadieu, who made the comments during a news conference on Wednesday, said the mobilization will continue to overthrow the current administration.
A spokesman for President Martelly, Lucien Jura, rejected the accusations made by Marcadieu and invited those demonstrating in the streets “to join the dialogue table.”
“Those who say president Martelly’s administration is a dictatorship don’t know what they are talking about,” Jura told HCNN. “The thing is that after they have brought all these kinds of false accusations against the president they know no one is going to persecute them.”
“They have a right to demonstrate in the streets against the president and they know president Martelly will make sure this precious right continues to be guaranteed,” explained Jura. “If you call that dictatorship, something must be going wrong.”