Report Urges National Consensus in Haiti

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Above: Haiti President Michel Martelly (Photo: OP Haiti)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Haiti is in a race against time to “convince its own people, donors and potential investors that progress and stability are still achievable,” according to a new report from the International Crisis Group.

The Report, Governing Haiti: Time for National Consensus, said that after “several failed efforts to reach domestic agreement on basic issues, even loyal donors are becoming frustrated by the lack of leadership, governance and accountability.

“The challenges facing Haiti are not difficult to see”, says Javier Ciurlizza, Crisis Group’s Latin America and Caribbean Program Director. “They focus on a need for good governance, consensus building among the elites, effectively implemented poverty reduction strategies and strengthened rule of law. Sadly, these challenges have never been confronted effectively. Haiti today presents little cause for optimism.”

The report said the greatest immediate challenge was to end the “persistent polarization that has blocked free and fair elections.”

“President Martelly, already struggling to govern the broken and divided nation for more than one and a half years, lacks the stable political base (also denied to his predecessors) to obtain buy-in to his proposed “Five-E” development strategy: employment, état de droit (rule of law), education, environment and energy,” the group said. “If he is to avoid political paralysis, he needs to build on the tenuous Christmas Eve 2012 agreement shepherded by the ecumenical Religions for Peace group for a credible electoral body to hold much delayed Senate, municipal and local polls quickly.”

The group makes several recommendations in the report, including “public dialogue and consensus building,” using elections as a “starting point by agreeing on the terms for a free, fair, transparent and therefore credible electoral process” and building an “agenda for national-dialogue that focuses also on significant longer-term policies, including the government’s Five-E development strategy (employment, état de droit (rule of law), education, environment and energy), along with adequate auditing for transparency in execution”

The group urged Martelly to “Demonstrate respect for the constitution by refraining from acts such as direct appointments to public posts that it requires be elected; and reverse any appointments that conflict with that requirement.”

It also called on political parties in Haiti to “adopt initiatives to firm up parliamentary groups into stable blocs built around policies rather than narrow individual interests.”

The Crisis Group, founded in 1995, is based in Brussels. It is led by Louise Arbour, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“If Haiti is to pull through, the better angels in the natures of its leaders are going to have to prevail for once and prevail soon,” said Mark Schneider, Crisis Group’s Senior Vice President and Special Adviser on Latin America. “This is a thin reed on which to float the country’s future; but it might be all it has.”

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