Biased El Rancho Accord Delaying Haitian Elections

This article explains why there is a standstill in the elections process, including President Martelly’s attempt to use a biased Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), and the US’ attempts to pressure the Senate to accept this unfair CEP.

As U.S. Delegations Visit and Masses March: Senate President Declares “El Rancho Accord” Dead

Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte
April 30-May 6, 2014

Jean Claude Duvalier sera-t-il transféré

Haiti’s Senate President, Sen. Simon Dieuseul Desras, has clearly
rejected the so-called “Inter-Haitian Agreement of El Rancho,” which
was brokered earlier this year by the Catholic Church’s new Haitian
Cardinal Chibly Langlois.

Named after the iconic Pétionville hotel where it was negotiated
starting in late January and signed on Mar. 19, the “El Rancho Accord”
supposedly struck a deal between President Michel Martelly and Haiti’s
political parties and civil society for a political framework to hold
parliamentary and municipal elections in October.

But critics say the negotiations only included Martelly’s political
allies. All the opposition parties and citizen action groups,
including the former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas Family
party (which briefly took part in the talks as an “observer”), shunned
the “dialogue” and have rejected the El Rancho agreement as a sham.

Desras told Martelly that the Parliament never agreed to the document
and therefore “the El Rancho Accord has no binding force and cannot
override either the Constitution or the Electoral Law.”

The battle is really over who will umpire the upcoming elections. The
“El Rancho Accord” recognizes and enshrines the Transitional College
of the Permanent Electoral Council (CTCEP), a mostly
Martelly-appointed body formed last year, as the Electoral Council
that would oversee elections.

But Sen. Desras, after two meetings with a majority of senators, was
mandated to call on Martelly to establish a new Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP) under the guidelines established by Article 289 of the
Haitian Constitution. This clause calls for nine representatives from
diverse sectors of Haitian society including churches, the university,
journalists, and human rights groups.

If he fails to hold elections this year under these conditions, Desras
said, the Senate “will have no alternative but to demand Mr.
Martelly’s resignation.”

Already, thousands marched in Haiti again this past week on Apr. 26 in
Cap Haïtien and on Apr. 28 in Port-au-Prince to call for President
Martelly to immediately step down and for the 10-year-long
9,000-soldier U.N. Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave the
country.

Apr. 26 marked the 51st anniversary of a massacre carried out by
dictator Francois “Papa
Doc” Duvalier in 1963 and another carried out 23 years later by
Haitian soldiers under the neo-Duvalierist regime of Gens. Henry
Namphy and Williams Regala in 1986 against demonstrators commemorating
the former massacre.

“Martelly and his cronies are too corrupt to hold free and fair
elections, and the MINUSTAH rigged the last ones to have Martelly
elected,” said Oxygène David of the new party Dessalines Coordination
(KOD), which took part in the protests. “We need to start with a clean
slate, as a sovereign country, without a mafia in power and without
neo-colonists meddling in our internal affairs.”

But, on Apr. 23, Haitian-born Joël Danies, the U.S. State Department’s
lead agent on Haiti, visited the country to pressure six influential
senators who form the core of the parliamentary resistance against the
U.S./Martelly agenda of rushing through unconstitutional elections
before the end of this year.

Two senators refused to meet with Danies – Sens. Moïse Jean-Charles
(North) and Francky Exius (South).  No agreement came out of Danies’
meeting with the other four: Jean-Baptiste Bien-Aimé (North East),
Westner Polycarpe (North), John Joël Joseph (West) and Jean William
Jeanty (Nippes).

On Mar. 28-29, a U.S. Congressional delegation including Florida
congresspeople Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL),
and Frederica Wilson (D-FL) also had visited Haiti. In an apparent
response to the six senators’ snubbing of Danies, Ros-Lehtinen wrote
an Apr. 24 letter that said: “I’m deeply concerned that already long
overdue elections in Haiti continue to be delayed…. Congress is
watching closely this process in Haiti as we examine our foreign aid
package. The consensus El Rancho Agreement signed on Mar. 19 committed
all parties to a clear path forward for holding elections this year
for the Chamber of Deputies, two-thirds of the Senate, and local and
regional offices. The Executive Branch and Chamber of Deputies have so
far adhered to their commitment and advanced the necessary elections
legislation. Now it is time for the Haitian Senate to act and pass the
electoral law in the spirit of the El Rancho Agreement so that an
election date can be set.”

The U.S. “aid package” amounts to about $301 million.

In contrast to Ros-Lehtinen’s stick, MINUSTAH’s chief, Sandra Honoré,
held out a carrot in the form of a pool-side dinner at her residence
to honor Sen. Desras on Apr. 21. “This dialogue should continue to
engage all actors,” she said, referring to the discredited El Rancho
negotiations. “It is one of the first important steps towards a
national consensus on the holding of elections in 2014 before arriving
at a durable solution for the future of the country.”

Sen. Desras rejected the charges that the Senate was responsible for
holding up elections and said that a “trusted electoral council of
consensus would not take one week to set up.”

Also attending the dinner were Martelly allies, Sens. Jocelerme
Privert and Maxime Roumer; former Sen. Youri Latortue, an advisor to
President Martelly; Carl Jean-Louis, an aide to Prime Minister Laurent
Lamothe,; Mirlande Hyppolite Manigat, a representative of the
opposition alliance MOPOD; Dimitri Vorbe, a representative of the
private business sector; Mary Gilles Yolène, a representative of the
National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH); journalists Daly Valet
of Radio Trans-air/Vision 2000 and Robenson Alphonse of the daily
newspaper Le Nouvelliste, and a representative of the Catholic Church.

In the growing war of words, Sen. Desras, declared last week that “the
National Palace has turned into a den of thieves.” He pointed in
particular to the appointment of Dorzena Wilma, alias Wisky Wisky, to
the city government of the town of Saut d’Eau, although the man is an
alleged member of the recently busted kidnapping ring known as the
“Galil Gang,” allegedly headed by the fugitive Woodley “Sonson La
Familia” Ethéard (see Haïti Liberté, 4/23/2014.)

On Radio Kiskeya’s show Public Interest, hosted by journalist Lilliane
Pierre-Paul, on Apr. 27, Sen. Desras seemed unfazed by Washington’s
pressure on him and claimed that he too had some “powerful
international allies.”

Desras concluded that Martelly had become “completely arrogant” in
demanding that the Haitian Senate and people swallow the El Rancho
accord.

Taking a half-step towards the demand of Haiti’s streets for
Martelly’s immediate departure, Desras concluded:”I will call for the
resignation of President Martelly if he cannot hold elections by the
end of this year.”

 

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