wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08PORTAUPRINCE134 2008-01-28 17:27:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Port Au Prince
Cable title:  

HAITI'S HEAD OF ELECTIONS RESIGNS

Tags:   PGOV PREL HA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2914
OO RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #0134/01 0281727
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281727Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7562
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1767
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 0107
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1575
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 2353
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0252
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC 0998
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PORT AU PRINCE 000134 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR, DRL, S/CRS, INR/IAA)
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PAS AID FOR LAC/CAR
TREASURY FOR MAUREEN WAFER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL HA
SUBJECT: HAITI'S HEAD OF ELECTIONS RESIGNS

REF: A) PORT AU PRINCE 0088 B) PORT AU PRINCE 0055 C)

07 PORT AU PRINCE 1996

PORT AU PR 00000134 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Janet Sanderson. Reason: E.O. 12958 1.4 (b)
, (d)

Summary
-------



1. (C) Jacques Bernard, Director General of Haiti's
Provisional Electoral Council and the man who was to manage
Haiti's Senate elections later this year, submitted his
letter of resignation to President Preval January 23, and
soon thereafter left the country. Bernard's resignation
letter, which he leaked to the press, states that the
revision of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) by-laws
so compromised his authority that effective management of the
elections had become impossible. This came after Bernard
told Embassy -- and President Preval's advisors -- that most
contentious issues in revising the by-laws had been worked
out. President Preval directed his principal advisor Bob
Manuel and his private sector advisor Bernard Craan to work
with Bernard, but Bernard's departure quickly foreclosed that
option. President Preval and private sector leaders who have
supported Bernard express frustration with the departed
Director General. Embassy finds it hard to imagine that with
the personalities involved, either Bernard or the CEP board
made much effort to get along. Bernard could not come to
terms with the fact that the Preval government would want him
to be accountable to the electoral authority, unlike the
situation in 2006, when Haiti had no elected government. The
private sector and the President were to meet January 28 to
find a successor, but there are no obvious qualified
candidates. Haiti's already delayed Senate election calendar
will be further pushed back.

Presidential Umbrage at Bernard


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





2. (C) Embassy learned January 24 that Provisional Electoral
Council Director General Jacques Bernard submitted his letter
of resignation to President Preval the previous day.
Speaking to the Ambassador later on the 24th, the President
claimed to be completely surprised by this turn of events.
He promised to get his advisors Bob Manuel and private sector
representative Bernard Craan to work with the CEP and Bernard
to solve the problem, and asked that we give him space to do
so. Manuel told the Ambassador January 25 that he and the
President were incensed that Bernard had violated protocol by
copying the CEP on his private letter to the President.
Manuel said he had tried to reason with Bernard, but that
Bernard refused to engage. Bernard then publicized his
resignation in a January 25 radio interview and leaked his
resignation letter to the press. Preval's private sector
confidant Bernard Craan had contacted Jacques Bernard from
Canada, agreeing to discuss the issue upon Craan's return to
Haiti. Craan returned to Haiti on January 25, only to find
out the next day that Jacques Bernard had left the country.

Private Sector Feels Left in the Lurch


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





3. (C) AmCham President Bernard Fils-Aime, who has supported
Bernard all along, told the Ambassador that he and his
organization, after they had supported him so strongly, are
unhappy at Bernard's sudden resignation. Fils-Aime said that
AmCham and other private sector representatives had met for
over two hours January 26 to discuss the way ahead and
possible successors, and that they would meet President
Preval January 28 to discus next steps.

Embassy Efforts


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





4. (C) Bernard has communicated to Embassy his concerns over
efforts to erode his authority as Director General (ref a).
However, his resignation came after he had told PolCouns Jan
21 that most of the contentious points in revising the

PORT AU PR 00000134 002.2 OF 002


by-laws had been acceptably resolved. He tempered that
cautious optimism, however, saying that what mattered was
less the precise language of the by-laws than the actual
working relationship between the DG and the CEP board. He
confided that he had suspected that the CEP councilors sought
to undermine his authority and require CEP board approval for
all substantive Director General decisions -- particularly on
spending and personnel -- which would make his position
untenable. PolCouns agreed on the centrality of cooperation
between DG and CEP board, and urged Bernard to find a way to
work with the CEP so that elections could go forward.
Bernard then confided that he already had stayed away from
work for several days, and would continue to do so until the
problem was resolved. Ambassador spoke with Bernard several
times through this period, urging him to find a modus vivendi
with the new and inexperienced CEP councilors in the
interests of getting the elections done.

Comment: Bridges Burned


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





5. (C) Bernard never accepted the argument advanced by the
President and some in the private sector that the Director
General would have to share power with a CEP appointed by a
legitimate elected government -- in contrast to the situation
in 2006, when the international community induced Haiti's
temporary interim government to accept a Director General
virtually unaccountable to the CEP. We see little evidence
that Bernard made a concerted effort to diplomatically
assuage the new CEP councilors. To be fair, the CEP never
reached out to or tried to work with Bernard either, as
Ambassador counseled them (ref b). Soon after his
appointment, the thin-skinned Bernard expressed doubts that
he could reach a modus vivendi with the CEP, and expressed
fear that he was being set up for failure. Still, his abrupt
throwing in of the towel, preemptory press statement,
rejection of approaches from Presidential advisors, and quick
departure from the country have burned his bridges with the
President and his private sector backers. Embassy sees no
obvious candidates to replace him, but will encourage the
President and the private sector to identify a successor
quickly. One person anxious to get elections moving is
newly-elected Senate President Kely Bastien, who told the
Ambassador (septel) that he was anxious to consider the draft
electoral law right after the Feb. 3-5 Carnival celebrations.
In any case, this resignation will further push back Haiti's
electoral calendar.
SANDERSON