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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07PORTAUPRINCE1329
2007-08-06 13:09:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

(C) PREVAL FEELS ATTACKED BY VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  KCOR  KDEM  HA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2333
PP RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #1329/01 2181309
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061309Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6638
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 1605
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 1423
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC PRIORITY 0864
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1274
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PORT AU PRINCE 001329 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/EX AND WHA/CAR
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA
WHA/EX PLEASE PASS USOAS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/03/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCOR KDEM HA
SUBJECT: (C) PREVAL FEELS ATTACKED BY VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE
IN CULTURE MINISTER

REF: A. PORT AU PRINCE 1276

B. PORT AU PRINCE 1294

C. PORT AU PRINCE 1134

D. PORT AU PRINCE 1240

PORT AU PR 00001329 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Thomas C. Tighe for reasons 1.4 (b) an
d (d).



1. (C) Summary: The Chamber of Deputies passed a vote of no
confidence against Minister of Culture and Communication
Daniel Elie on July 31. The deputies alleged that the
minister had committed malfeasance in his distribution of
funds for Haiti's annual Carnival celebration in February.
President Preval views the move as an attack against his
government and against him personally. He subsequently told
Elie and the rest of the Cabinet to continue working as
usual. The deputies, meanwhile, admit that they are sending
a message to the Preval government that the time has come to
reshuffle the Cabinet, validating Preval's concern that votes
against his ministers will continue. Parliamentarians'
desire for government handouts plays a central role in the
strike against Elie, and is likely a back-handed way to show
their disapproval for Preval's fight against corruption, at
least insofar as it affects their access to ministerial slush
funds. End summary.

Minister of Culture Revoked


--------------------------





2. (U) After more than a week without achieving a quorum in
the chamber of deputies, 87 out of 99 deputies attended the
July 31 interrogation of Minister of Culture Daniel Elie.
The deputies passed a vote of no confidence against Elie,
with 68 deputies voting for, five against, and 14 abstaining.
The formal revocation had nine articles, but the principle
accusation was that Minister Elie misused 80 million Haitian
gourdes (approximately USD 2.25 million) during the annual
Carnival celebrations in February. Elie dispensed funds for
only the two biggest festivals, in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel,
and did not provide funding to each individual district as
the ministry has done in previous years. Despite the vote,
the GoH has made no moves thus far to dismiss or sanction
Elie.

Preval: This is War


--------------------------





3. (C) President Preval told the Ambassador and DCM on July
31 that ''The war has begun,'' referring to parliament's
challenge to the government. Preval said he views the
revocation of his long-time friend Elie as an attack both on
the government and on himself personally. Preval said
parliament is acting irresponsibly and implied that they are
making a concerted effort to instigate the downfall of the
current government. He stated that he has tried to be
inclusive of all political parties, inviting
parliamentarians, political activists and even Lavalas
militant Annette ''So Anne'' Auguste (ref A) to dine with him
at the Palace. Visibly frustrated, Preval cited more than
once, "I have invited them for lunch, and they have eaten
everything on the table," referring to the deputies. He

questioned the logic of forming a coalition Cabinet with
different political groups if it does nothing to soothe
tensions with the legislative branch. He stated further that
the ministers do not exercise discipline over the members of
their own parties in parliament.



4. (C) Preval said the real reason behind the revocation is
that deputies are angry because Elie budgeted money for
Carnival in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince, but not for each
deputy's district as is the tradition. Preval's policy has
been to do away with the tradition of ministries doling out
funds directly to parliamentarians, a system used by many of
his predecessors.



5. (C) Preval said that Daniel Elie is only the first salvo,
and predicts the parliament will now attempt to revoke other
ministers. Only the Ministers of Education and Environment,
who still dole out funds to deputies according to the old

PORT AU PR 00001329 002.2 OF 003


tradition, are safe, according to Preval. (Note: Minister of
Finance Dorsainvil went before the parliament on August 1 and
later told the Ambassador that his meeting was cordial. End
note.) Preval told the Ambassador that he will not stand for
this, and that he will not work with a parliament that
behaves this way. He added that the U.S. and the rest of the
international community who are working to develop parliament
are wasting their financial resources.

Ministers: Business as Usual


--------------------------





6. (C) Minister Elie told the Ambassador on August 1 that
Preval told him to remain at his post and continue working as
usual. He attended Preval's August 1 dinner in honor of SYG
Ban Ki-moon in his capacity as Minister of Culture and said
he would be in his office the following day. He also noted
that he looked forward to working with the Embassy on our
cultural projects.



7. (C) Daniel Dorsainvil, Minister of Finance, told the
Ambassador on August 1 that Preval and Alexis's message to
the Cabinet is that business will continue as usual.
Dorsainvil said the idea is to not overreact to the
revocation. Political stability is key at this point as
Haiti begins to see some positive signs, he said.

Chamber of Deputies: Divergent Explanations


--------------------------





8. (C) President of the Chamber of Deputies Eric
Jean-Jacques (Lespwa - Delmas, West) told the Ambassador on
August 1 that he attempted to head off the revocation of
Minister Elie. He assured the Ambassador that he had worked
behind the scenes until the last moment but said he got no
support from the government in that effort. (Note: Other
government officials said that the vote was one of
Jean-Jacques' efforts to thumb his nose at Alexis, who
supported an opposing candidate for the chamber presidency.
End note.)



9. (C) Deputy Stephen Benoit (Lespwa - Petionville, West),
who voted against the minister, told Poloff that many
deputies voted against Elie because of their personal dislike
of the minister. In Benoit's view, Elie is arrogant, and
mistreats deputies when they visit his office. As a friend
of Preval, Benoit added, Elie thought he was invincible, and
now the deputies have proved otherwise. Benoit stated that
this was a message to the government that it is time to shape
up or ship out, and said that if the president does not
reshuffle the Cabinet they will continue voting out ministers
until he is forced to appoint new ones.



10. (C) Deputy Ronald Lareche (Fusion - Capotille,
Northeast) was more critical of his colleagues, telling
Poloff that the deputies summoned Minister Elie to parliament
because they did not receive the traditional handouts during
Carnival, even though those funds are supposed to go to the
mayors. He also stated that many deputies personally dislike
Elie because of his arrogance, citing his tendency to speak
French to deputies who he knows only speak Creole.

Consequences for Haitian Democracy


--------------------------





11. (C) Comment: Preval presently appears unwilling to meet
parliament's demands to reshuffle the Cabinet. The deputies,
for their part, are likely engaged in an effort to undermine
the Preval government through the back door. By attacking
the Minister of Culture, they can continue outwardly
supporting Preval's anti-corruption stance but at the same
time signal to him that if fighting corruption means taking
away their slush funds, they will not stand for it. They
likely chose Elie because he has no political party
affiliation and no political base apart from his friendship
with Preval, and thus was an easy target. By snubbing
parliament's decision and keeping Elie in the Cabinet, Preval
is fueling the ''war'' he says parliament has begun.


PORT AU PR 00001329 003.2 OF 003




12. (C) Comment continued: At a time when Preval needs to
remain closely engaged with parliament to advance Haiti's
democracy, his initial response to what he considers a
personal attack is to stop working with them altogether. The
widening gap between the executive and the parliament may
potentially undermine critical progress in justice reform
(ref B) and further delay the new law governing indirect
elections (ref C), not to mention other pending legislation.
In addition, squabbles with elected officials are certainly
not going to persuade Preval to move forward with elections
for the next group of parliamentarians (ref D) if he
continues to view them as adversaries. We will continue to
emphasize with the President and the parliament the
importance of maintaining a cooperative relationship in order
to advance Haiti's democratic process.
TIGHE