Haiti: A Case of Irresponsible Leadership

Nationality:

When Senator Moise Jean-Charles told the press that President Martelly was not a Haitian citizen, a gasp of astonishment could have been heard from Haitians everywhere.  What! The president is allegedly holding multiple nationalities, reportedly Italian and American.  Now, coming from Senator Jean-Charles, accusations are no surprises.  He’s accused the current administration of careless spending, violations of Human Rights and even of secretly plotting the creation of a Militia called the “Milice Rose”.  He feels this is his job as a member of the opposition to contribute to destabilizing the current administration by every means necessary.  It is clear that he has a very limited understanding of what the Opposition should do.

A couple of weeks after the allegations of the senator, the Senate convened a formal meeting at the end of which a committee was formed and an investigation ordered.  We could only conclude that the Senate, in all its Majesty, had enough substantial evidence to warrant an investigation that would not stop at the head of state but would reach deep into the many folds of his Cabinet, or so we thought.  A passport bearing a photograph of President Martelly was submitted and has been circulating on the net.  A letter was released by the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince: “the passport presented has nothing to do with President Martelly and the embassy will never release any personal information on US citizens (what!); this would be a violation of privacy laws”.  It was later reported that the said passport may belong to a Haitian-American woman who had lost her documents in 2010 while visiting Haiti during which trip she and her husband had been the victims of kidnapping.

In the meantime, in the midst of the “investigation”, the Haitian Office of Immigration decided to set archived files on fire.  Among the burned victims, a countless number of boarding cards, filled by all persons en route to Haiti.  On it, pertinent information such as length of stay, purpose of visit and (oh yes!) nationality.  The director of Immigration who was heard in the Senate claimed that every 3 years such “old and useless” documents had to be burned and the incineration usually took place before two Justices of the Peace who, we assume, write a report.

If the Senate wants to retain a shred of dignity, if its distinguished members want to display the level of leadership this country needs, they should dismiss this case for lack of evidence or they should produce, and fast, credible evidence to back the accusations.  For now, we retain the right to classify this investigation as bogus and a waste of valuable time and energy that need to be spent in a more productive manner.

The Audit:

Dr. Gary Conille, now former Prime Minister of Haiti, took office about 5 months ago and resigned on Monday February the 20th.  One of his major undertaking during his short administration was to set in motion a series of reforms and new measures that would in time be instrumental in strengthening the State by promoting much-needed transparency and accountability.  What could be wrong with that? In a country where the status quo is constantly at war with progress and the rule of law, Dr. Conille’s agenda may have angered more than one.  He ordered an audit of the administration of his predecessor Jean-Max Bellerive who is allegedly a current adviser to President Martelly.  Reportedly, contracts were signed with extremely lenient terms and conditions for the Dominican companies, and to the detriment of Haiti.  Furthermore, some claim that kickbacks from these deals were used to finance President Martelly’s campaign.  Oh boy!

For further details please refer to the following article: http://www.prlog.org/11807971-scandal-and-corruption-threatens-political-stability-on-both-sides-of-haiti.html (article in English)

The Prime Minister:

Today, Haiti is plunged in yet another crisis.  It has become a system.  Another Prime Minister has to be chosen by President Martelly and approved by Parliament.  The Constitution stipulates that if there is no party holding majority in Parliament, the president after consulting the Presidents of both Chambers chooses a Prime Minister.  Contrary to Constitutional provisions, President Martelly submitted three names to the attention of Parliament. He has since chosen among the three names his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Laurent Lamothe.

In the meantime, Senator Wesner Polycarpe has submitted a project to the Senate.  If adopted, the Senate will cease all forms of consulting and dialogue with the president until he bends to the following demands:

1-  The president must truly commit to respecting the Constitution of 1987

2- Disarm and prosecute all paramilitary groups

3- Publish the electoral calendar

4- Publish and promulgate the most recent constitutional amendments

oh yes, last but not least

5- Provide all clarification concerning certain obscure points in contracts awarded by the administration of Jean-Max Bellerive and brought to light by the audit ordered by former Prime Minister Conille.

For further details please refer to the following article http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=102947&PubDate=2012-02-29  (article in French)

Some have argued, and I am one of them, that President Martelly should have long ago stopped the madness surrounding his alleged dual citizenship.  After all, to display responsible leadership is to avoid unnecessary conflicts and to offer, when needed, top-notch leadership skills to resolve ASAP any issues that may  potentially destabilize the state.  A lesson President Martelly has yet to learn.  He is willfully contentious,  has shown  disrespect for the rule of law and has a penchant for propaganda.  That being said, it doesn’t mean that the last 8 months in office have been a total waste.  No, not at all.  Hundreds of families victims of the 2010 earthquake have been relocated, some even got new houses and are now proud home owners in a country where access to credit is denied to most.  This is certainly a step in the right direction.  Furthermore, President Martelly has made it a point to meet former Haitian heads of state who, for the first time in our history, find themselves all living in Haiti.  It is an important gesture of good faith toward a possible national reconciliation if we are ever to have one.

Eight months in office, it would be safe to say that all is not lost for the current administration.  But certain important adjustments have to be made if the remainder of their term in office is to be an improvement of the last months. All hope that the current administration has yet the ability to muster up the courage to put Haiti first and ahead of their own petty interests.  Some remain optimist, most are tired of waiting and continue to be frustrated and discouraged with governments that can never deliver.  President Martelly’s campaign slogan of choice was “change”.  We are still waiting for this Haiti they claim is “open for business”.  The lack of support shown to Dr. Conille on his quest for accountability and transparency, denotes a propensity for “business as usual”.  As I hum the very enthralling tune “dekole” (take-off), that was the musical theme for the 2012 Carnaval, one cannot help but come to the sad realisation that Haiti’s take-off is not for tomorrow.

Cassandra Honorat

March 1st 2012

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