It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

On the Haitian Presidential Electoral Commission: Is OAS’s Sir Ronald Sanders Undermining Democracy?

The Miami Herald reported that Sir Ronald Sanders from OAS recommended that Interim President Privert name a Presidential Electoral Verification Commission. That would be a total violation of the February 5, 2016 Accord and the Haitian Constitution. With this statement, Sanders is opening a Pandora’s box that would open Haiti to total chaos and exacerbate the chronic political instability. Why would the OAS propose such a violation of Haiti’s democratic process?

This seems to be the result of Privert’s lobbying to extend his 120 days in office into a two-year transition. That would be a disaster and all the political gains made over the years would be washout. Sanders’ statement reminded Haitians how the violations of the eight point agreement to return to constitutional order between Aristide and National Security Advisor Anthony Lake in November 2000 led to two years of violations of human rights, political parties headquarters burning and chaos. It also reminded Haitians how OAS Luigi Enaudi and Sandra Honore failed to uphold and defend democratic principles when Aristide was killing his political opponents. Failure to defend Haiti’s constitution and the February 5 Accord might lead to the same results. Will OAS, Sir Ronald Sanders and Sandra Honore fail Haiti again?

 After Haiti came out of the Duvalier dictatorship, the framers of the constitution in 1987 wanted to ensure that none of the three branches of Government could interfere with the elections. Particularly the Executive Branch which in Haiti’s recent past used commissions as one of the tricks to change the voters’ choices and install dictatorships. The framers created the electoral tribunal known as Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) under Article 289 of the constitution. All matters related to the elections, evaluations, verifications, contestations, and publications of the results or any other electoral matters are legally under the purview of one institution, the CEP. The framers went as far as not allowing the Judiciary and any other Court to overrule the CEP decisions. When Interim President Jocelerme Privert is trying to name a Presidential Electoral Commission, known as the Verification Commission, he is interfering with the letter and the spirit of Haiti’s constitution, and he is in the path of what the framers forbid in order to prevent an electoral coup. If there is a need for verification, there is only one place it can be done, with the new CEP. Nowhere else.

If Privert moves forward with a Commission, it will create a jurisprudence that will allow future interference of executive power in elections results. It is worth noting that there are no calls to do the same with the Legislative and Municipal election results. In these Legislative and Municipal elections, the candidates followed the process, contested and respected the outcomes. In the presidential elections, the candidates who lost the elections did not follow the process and are no putting forward new rules. Why should this be allowed? Is that the new door that Sanders is opening with the Democratic Charter?

Now, it is time to stop the shenanigans and implement the final chapter of the February 5 Accord. At least most of the members of the Core Group, or the international community groups tasked with supporting Haiti through this turbulent time, are standing for elections and democracy. We should be mindful that Chapter V called for the finalization of the presidential runoff, ensuring that a new constitutional President take office on May 14, six days before the end of the mandate of the interim President, and get Haiti back to stability.