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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05PORTAUPRINCE2569
2005-10-14 20:23:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

HAITI ELECTIONS: PROGRESS AND A LOOMING PROBLEM

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  KDEM  HA 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 002569 

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
WHA ALSO FOR USOAS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM HA
SUBJECT: HAITI ELECTIONS: PROGRESS AND A LOOMING PROBLEM


Classified By: DCM Douglas Griffiths for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 002569

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
WHA ALSO FOR USOAS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM HA
SUBJECT: HAITI ELECTIONS: PROGRESS AND A LOOMING PROBLEM


Classified By: DCM Douglas Griffiths for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)


1. (C) Summary. Prime Minister Latortue announced October 13
the following measures aimed at moving forward elections
preparations: (1) The creation of a Director General (DG) in
charge of a new electoral Support Committee, (2) the passage
of a decree removing the Supreme Court from the appeals
process for electoral disputes, (3) amendments to existing
laws that will allow the adjustment of the election
timetable, and (4) approval of $1.3 million to finance
political parties. The actions are welcome news, though
there are conflicting accounts of precisely what authority
the new DG will have. In the meantime, work toward creating
a DG and restructuring the CEP has sidetracked further
progress on critical elections tasks. The removal of the
Supreme Court from the electoral process is controversial,
but necessary to ensure elections occur on time and
consistent with Haiti's constitution. The PM also announced
the creation a ministerial commission to examine the
citizenship of political candidates. The move to create the
citizenship commission, however, is provocative and will
distract the Haitian government and politicians from the
urgent tasks at hand. The Haitian government should respect
the standing supreme court decision and focus exclusively on
the logistics of elections preparations. End Summary.

Steps Forward/Steps Sideways
--------------


2. (C) The centerpiece of the PM,s actions is the creation
of the DG. Earlier in the day, the PM had vowed to visiting
S/CRS director Pascual and WHA/PDAS Duddy that he would have
the DG installed and working before he left Haiti on
Saturday, October 16 (septel). The PM insisted that the DG
would have the necessary authority to take decisions,
coordinate the work of the CEP, MINUSTAH, and the OAS, and
utilize all the electoral expertise at hand. The DG's first
task would be to chart the tasks remaining and establish firm
and fixed dates for national and local elections. The Prime
Minister further admitted that the first round of elections

would likely take place sometime between December 11 and
December 18. The PM,s choice for DG, Jacques Bernard, a
Haitian businessman currently resident in the U.S., began
meetings with the PM and government officials today, October

14. He has reportedly asked for written assurances of his
authority (presumably included in the new by-laws) and for
the unanimous consent of CEP members for his appointment.


3. (C) Separate conversations with CEP members indicate that
they are less clear about their relationship with the DG.
Though most accepted Mr. Duddy's formulation that the CEP
should act as a board and the DG as the CEO, some members
implied that the they expected to continue to participate in
day-to-day decision making. Additionally, in the process of
creating the Support Committee and DG's position, the CEP has
also restructured itself, forming two working committees of
four members each, with a new President selected among the
current members at the top (and leaving uncertain the status
of current CEP President Max Mathurin). Several CEP members
also informed Polcouns that that the process of establishing
the Support Committee and finalizing the by-laws had brought
work in other areas to a standstill. At the time of the
PM,s announcement to form the committee and restructure the
electoral administration on September 30, the CEP had still
to select and staff voting centers, complete the set-up and
staffing of BECS, and to finalize the list of approved
candidates for national office. Final action on these items
now awaits the completion of the restructuring of the CEP and
the installation of the DG.

The Supreme Court, the Prime Minister, and Mr. Simeus
--------------


4. (C) The government's removal of the Supreme Court from the
electoral process is necessary, but politically sensitive.
The decree will take effect only days after the Supreme Court
ruled 5-0 to re-instate the candidacy of Haitian American
businessman Dumarsais Simeus. The CEP had previously ruled
Simeus ineligible on the basis of his dual nationality, and
Simeus and the Prime Minister had engaged throughout the
process in an increasingly bitter and public dispute. The
Prime Minister admitted to Ambassador Pascual and Mr. Duddy
that everyone would assume he had proceeded with the decree
out of revenge against Simeus and the Supreme Court, but
emphasized that holding to a February 7 was only possible
with the court removed from the process, and that he would
refrain from linking this move with Simeus candidacy.


5. (SBU) Latortue ironically created this problem for
himself. His government established the Supreme Court's role
in the electoral process by decree only in March. The
Supreme Court had previously had no jurisdiction in electoral
matters, and Haiti's 1987 constitution designates the
Electoral Council as the final instance of appeal for
approving candidates. Latortue took this action over the
strenuous objections of international and Haitian elections
experts, who foresaw that the Supreme Court's inclusion would
prove unworkable within the constraints of the electoral
calendar.

Comment
--------------


6. (C) The consequences of the Prime Minister's decision to
form a committee to examine the nationality of candidates
could derail Haiti's elections. Many correctly view his
actions as a continuation of a personal vendetta against
Simeus, and a continuing dispute will seriously poison the
campaign atmosphere. An attempt by the government to reverse
the Supreme Court's ruling on Simeus, or disqualify another
of the major dual national candidates could spark a political
crisis or otherwise seriously impact voter participation. In
addition, the Prime Minister deliberately deceived us and our
Department visitors regarding his position on Supreme Court's
decision. He told Ambassador Pascual and DAS Duddy during
their meeting, and later the Charge d,Affairs by phone, that
he would not challenge the decisions already taken by the
Supreme Court and withheld his plans to establish the
nationality review committee. His establishment of that
committee throws both his motives and his dependability in
carrying out additional commitments into question. The Prime
Minister should desist with any efforts to interfere with
Supreme Court decisions already taken and devote his full
attention and energy to ensuring Haiti's elections take place
on time.
CARNEY