Under the “Bald-Headed” regime, illegality has become the norm By Editor
The first “Bald-Headed” regime led by Michel Martelly was characterized by its multiple violations of the Constitution. The one presided over by Jovenel Moïse has put the Basic Charter downright aside. Though currently there is no real government in charge, very few voices are raised to denounce this abnormal situation. It seems that few people care about the consequences of this legal sloppiness. No one even thinks about what would happen if there were to be a court challenge to this way of running the country by President Moïse. Of course, a more basic question first: In front of what court, considering that the justice system exists in name only?
Prior to Jovenel Moïse, Michel Martelly had been operating in full violation of the laws of the land and of the Constitution. One could point to the formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (French acronym CEP) that was headed by Léopold Berlanger or the appointment of judges without any regard for the Constitution.
When Jovenel Moïse took over the presidency, he just continued to imitate his predecessor. For sure, in the past six months Haiti has been sinking into “pernicious illegality.” No one seems to care that there’s no legitimate government running the show. Not the socio-political sectors, which should have taken the lead in bringing the authorities to change their ways! There’s some sort of complacency in the “legal cacophony.”
Since the Notary Public Jean Henry Céant was kicked out of office last March 18, following a no confidence vote by the Chamber of Deputies, as the Lower House of Parliament is called, Jovenel Moïse has been piling the illegal decisions and actions. Take the appointment of Jean Michel Lapin as Prime Minister three days after the ouster of Céant. It occurred even before the later formally presented his resignation to the President. Constitutionally, an interim Prime Minister can be in office, managing current affairs for only 30 days. Well, the former Minister of Culture and Communication in the ousted Céant government, Mr. Lapin didn’t get proper financial discharge for his management of the ministry he had led. Moreover, after his first 30 days, he’s been kept on indefinitely. Forget article 165 of the Basic Charter, which clearly states, “In the event of the Prime Minister’s resignation, the Government shall remain in place until his successor is appointed to conduct current affairs.“ For 30 days, we will repeat!
However, there hasn’t been any objection on the part of the political actors who show no concern about the country being put on auto pilot. After all, the so-called Lapin government is devoid of legal authority. Why isn’t there an outcry from authorized voices for application of the country’s Constitution and the laws of the land?
Pointing to more illegal choices, we’ll note that at least six other members of Mr. Céant’s government have been appointed to the Lapin government. Forget that the Constitution requires that they also should have obtained proper financial discharge for their management of their previous posts. They are recycled together with Lapin, no questions asked. Would it be that most of those in position to ask pertinent questions are tired of fighting against the misdeeds of Jovenel Moïse? Otherwise, how can one explain the laxity of the legislators in Parliament whose constitutional responsibilities include oversight of action of the Executive? The Senators and Deputies shouldn’t have remained silent regarding proper financial discharge of the former Ministers of the Céant cabinet who were reappointed in the Lapin cabinet.
Finally, it seems that the upcoming Fritz William Michel government will be breaking with the past, especially since new and younger faces never holding high executive posts are appointed in the new government. Moreover, half of the ministers are women. But it all depends on approval of the designated Prime Minister who’s been in limbo since July 22nd. Considering the brouhaha yesterday, causing another delay in the presentation of Mr. Michel’s general policy to the Lower House, one has no idea when or whether the new administration will be in place. It is worth pointing out that Article 169 of the Constitution states: “Ministers are responsible for the actions of the Prime Minister, which they countersign. They are jointly and severally liable for the enforcement of the laws.’’
It’s quite possible that parliamentarians, who should object to Mr. Moïse’s illegal appointments, have decided to use the ratification process of the Prime Minister’s policy statement to cause his elimination together with all his ministers. Nonetheless, such a process won’t necessarily address the problem of illegal appointments, thereby allowing President Moïse free rein to continue just as before.
After all, neither Michel Martelly nor Jovenel Moïse has been sued for their many violations of Haiti’s Constitution and of the laws of the land. Thus, there’s no way knowing the opinion of the Haitian judiciary on the subject of the stated violations. One wonders also whether the complacency shown by those who should rein in the President is dictated by their knowledge of the pusillanimity of Justice in regards to the Executive!
No matter the reason, in accepting without protest the breaches to the Constitution by the Head of State, the parliamentarians and the political circles bear much responsibility for the political imbroglio in which Mr. Moïse has driven the country. From the ouster of Jean Henry Céant to the naming of Jean Michel Lapin without respecting the norms, the floodgates of illegality were thrown open. Not even “current affairs” are being managed as mandated by the Constitution.
Yet, Jovenel Moïse isn’t at the end of his transgressions. To wit, lately he has proceeded to sign jointly with Jean Michel Lapin an order appointing Normil Rameau as the new Director General of the National Police a.i. Bypassing the Constitution has become like a second nature to Mr. Moïse.
This is another situation that could complicate the political crisis buffeting the country for several months and could further block positive governmental actions. What will happen if the parliamentarians decide to call the President to order, in relation to the Police chief’s appointment? Would we be facing another arm-wrestling match between the Presidency and Parliament? Considering that some parliamentarians are in opposition mode against the appointment of Fritz William Michel as Prime Minister, it doesn’t take much for those same parliamentarians to give President Moïse a hard time for this latest appointment without their say.
Undoubtedly, the Head of State is ensconced in his illegal decisions and actions. The more he piles them on the more comfortable he feels. In the process, are we to witness, without any protest from those who should, a new round of “bargaining” with crooked and corrupt parliamentarians, for approval of the new Director General of the Haitian National Police? How substantial must be the bribing in exchange for their positive vote?
It is time for patriots in both Houses of Parliament to apply the brakes and stop all the shenanigans once and for all. Alas, legality must regain its rights in the management of the affairs of the country!
cet article est publié par l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur, édition du 4 septembre 2019 Vol. XXXXIX no.35, et se trouve en P.11 à : http://s-dd.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/H-O-4-septem-2019.pdf