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President Jovenel Moïse vs Haitian frustration and impatience

President Jovenel Moïse acknowledged the frustration and impatience of his compatriots over the state of socio-economic conditions in the nation and the sclerotic pace at which living conditions can be improved. In a speech at the inauguration of the newly completed germplasm center at Marfranc in the Grand Anse, the President spoke on the frustration of his people, noting that Haitians are divided into two distinct political camp, clearly define by the expression, “I cannot wait, bring help quickly”.  While acknowledging that he understands the urgency of the conditions of his people, He urged the people to understand the need to do an effective job and his government’s efforts in several areas is designed to manage these projects well from the beginning to avoid problems down the road. And to do so, he cited some of the projects in which his government is involved in, such as the environmental and agricultural sectors which are major causes of vulnerability. To this end, his efforts at building germplasm centers where seedlings are studied and planted are designed to promote agriculture and to improve the living conditions of the people.  He further assures the people that his government is determined to address the various environmental issues facing the country such as watershed management, ravine correction, cleaning of riverbeds, the protection of cities and the prohibition of uncontrolled construction.

 Meanwhile, the newly nominated Prime Minister, Jean Henry Céant, has submitted documents for vetting by the Senate last Friday. While awaiting a vote on his nomination, he expressed his confidence in the legislature voting to nominate him and is willing to negotiate with the lawmakers in an effort to form a new government. He has even hinted at preparing to choose members of his cabinet which may include some of the members from the former administration who have resigned last month. In all, 21 documents have been submitted to the senate with a photocopy submitted to the house of deputies.  

 

Still, the political games have shown to be continuing during the period in which the legislature is expected to vote on the nomination. According to the leader of APH, Wilson Hyppolite, the majority bloc which consisted of 71 elected members has lost 20 members over the last few weeks and for the new prime minister to accomplish anything, he must consolidate the majority bloc in the Chamber of Deputies. Dissident members, led by the Speaker of the House of Deputies, Gary Bodeau are likely to demand ministerial positions or branches in exchange for their vote, a process Mr. Hyppolite considers a win-win situation for all, after an initial meeting between Mr. Céant and the majority bloc. The PM is expected to meet with other members whose vote is not conditional on any promises or guarantees. But the votes are expected to be dependent on Mr. Céant’s ability to convince the legislature on his policies to be adopted by his administration and the outcome of the vetting of his personal and financial assets which he submitted to the legislature. But before any votes, the constitutional stipulations will be respected, and Mr. Céant must gain the support of members of other allied political parties to ensure a vote on his nomination. There are 119 elected representatives in the Chamber of Deputies.

 

The representative from Delmas and speaker of the Chamber denounced the way the economic elites are getting involved in the political process with regard to this upcoming government and how ministers are chosen to work in the Céant administration. Gary Bodeau speaking in defense of his peers lamented the way certain civil society members are venting anger at the legislators, and rejected arguments denying the legislators the right to get involved in the appointment of ministers, and instead affirm their refusal to cede their constitutional prerogatives to other leaders of civil society. Responding to the economic elites, the Speaker of the House argues that it would be preferable that important public positions in the administration be entrusted to competent citizens irrespective of their background. He contends that if a member of the private sector wants to appoint the director of customs, it is understandable but why shouldn’t this position be open to any citizen. To him, representatives of the economic sector are trying to “invade” the state, because they want to have lucrative contracts and dismiss parliamentarians, while they already have contracts to order oil tankers and other contracts that are worth over US$400million. He expressed his willingness to get involved in the selection of ministers all the while noting that given his position as the speaker of the house, he must maintain a certain level of neutrality.

 

This feeling has been expressed by other legislators, who also criticize the private sector for monopolizing state structures. Senators Jean Renel Sénatus and Patrice Dumond warn against the increasing involvement of the private sector in the public sector and hinted that the riots following the removal and subsequent re-instatement of the fuel subsidy on July 6 and 7, 2019, were a direct reaction of anger of the population in the face of these injustices. While noting that some members of the private sector are progressive, the majority of them are least concerned about the development of the country but lining their own pockets. Citing as an example, he mentioned how 96 border crossings have been captured by these private enterprises. The riots simply crystalized the anger at the business sector which is seen as a gang interested in capturing the wealth of the nation. He advocated for a new system that will guarantee social justice so that last month’s riots do not repeat again. Senator Dumond also denounced the behavior of the elites and called for the closing of the gap between the rich and the poor. While regretting the impoverishment of the people, he acknowledges that three quarters of the nation budget is in service of officials. The elites who finance the campaign of the president know that it is not normal for them to grab such lucrative positions as the Customs or the Tax Department

 

Elsewhere, in order to ensure safety during these days as the holidays come to a close and back to school activities in full gear, the national police are launching a new operation known as “Boukle Lari a” which has three main objectives: increase police presence on the streets, have the police close to the people and to assure people that they can use the streets without fear at any time. According to the spokesman for the national police, Michel- Ange Louis-Jeune, these measures, taken from the headquarters of the PNH are meant to assure the public’s safety and the police’s mission to protect and serve. To this end, the measures are not only limited to potential street disturbances but also those who disturb the public peace. As such, night activities will be limited across the country by 10pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends. As for the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, there will be breaking up of patrol into sectors in order to adequately provide security to the people.

 

Finally, August 26, 2018 will be the last date the 2-year moratorium on Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic comes to an end, leaving the door open for the DR to deport some 200,000 migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent.

Dela Harlley

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