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Haiti’s newsreel: OAS mission

In a report made public yesterday, a goodwill mission by the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council in the country since early June 2021 concluded their fact finding mission and made various recommendations. Nomination of a new Prime Minister and ministerial cabinet that will have the confidence of the Haitian people; adoption of a measure to restore a climate of security and respect for human rights; nomination of an entirely new provisional electoral council (CEP), to strengthen the confidence the people in state institutions are among the most salient recommendations listed in the report. To achieve these goals, the report states that all stakeholders, the government, the opposition, the private and business sector and religious groups, civic organizations and indeed the entire Haitian population most work together to resolve the country’s political stalemate. The report further indicated that there must be an urgent effort by all involved to deal with the multiple crises facing the nation and that a new Prime Minister and cabinet should be in place by mid-July.

Most democratic institutions have been paralyzed for quite some time, and most traditional institutions no longer functioning in the country, it is important that the planned local, legislative and presidential elections take place in an environment of trust and transparency; hence the urgency to create a new electoral commission to hold these elections takes us critical importance. To avoid a power vacuum, it is imperative that efforts be made to ensure that there are free and fair elections at the end of 2021.  According to the OAS report, the recruitment of new members of the Provisional Electoral Council is crucial, just as the establishment of an electoral calendar, and the acceleration of efforts to register voters. For any of these measures to work, there should be a candid dialogue between the key sectors of Haitian society who must treat this issue with the advanced urgency it deserves.

As the OAS report was made public, the current electoral commission made published its election timetable, setting September 26, 2021 as the new date for the presidential and legislative elections, as well as the referendum. The second round of voting will take place on November 21, 2021, with the final results made public on December 7, 2021, and electoral campaigns will begin on August 26, 2021. Municipal elections will be held on January 16, 2022 and results made public on February 5, 2022. The controversial constitutional referendum which has been postponed several times, from April 25, 2021 and then June 27, 2021 has been indefinitely postponed due to technical issues as per recommendations from the UN which will assist the CEP in the implementation of this process and insure transparency and inclusiveness.

Elsewhere, a citizens’ group known as Nou Konsyan is calling for a sit-in today in front of the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety, (MJSP) to protest the ruling by judge Ramoncite Accimé in favor of those implicated in the PetroCaribe scandal. The judge decided to suspend investigations into the case citing absence of evidence from the administrative courts (CSCCA) and decisions from the legislature which would have blocked the progress of the proceedings. Judge Accimé further ordered the unfreezing of funds for those implicated in the case, such companies as Comphener S.A, Enersa, Elmecen S.A., Archivolt, Gk import export SA, Suntech Solar Haiti.

Ramoncite Accimé thus ordered the release of funds, in various banks and financial institutions for the following companies: Comphener S.A, Enersa, Elmecen S.A., Archivolt, Gk Import Export SA, and Suntech Solar Haiti. This case was dismissed outright and the indictment was squashed for lack of serious and sufficient evidence.

Members of the citizens’ group who have fought hard to have the people responsible be held accountable for their actions, are incensed and feel that the judge is behaving like a supporter of the ruling tèt kale (PHTK) party for unfreezing the accounts of companies such as Comphener S.A, represented by President Jovenel Moïse, which was indicated in the CSCCA report for mismanaging US$13.7million earmarked for use by a solar streetlight project. The three (3) reports by CSCCA between January 2019 and August 2020 have singled out several senior state officials; such as prime ministers, former ministers, former directors general – and officials of construction firms, in the mismanagement of billions of US dollars of public funds of PetroCaribe from Venezuelan aid to Haiti. Activists have planned a protest in front of the Ministry of Economic and Finance to denounce the judge’s decision.

Finally, on a lighter note, the oldest product made in Haiti, the rigorously produced Rhum Barbancourt, produced since 1862, received an award from the Beverage Testing Institute. The company’s signature 15-year old Barbancourt Réserve Rum from the Domaine was awarded the Gold Medal.

Also, Professor Samuel Pierre of the Department of Computer and Software Engineering at the Polytechnique Montreal, and Director of the Network and Mobile Computing Research Laboratory (LARIM), became the 49th recipient of the Gold Medal from Engineers Canada and the first professor at Polytechnique Montreal to receive this distinction – the highest of its kind – in the field of engineering, granted for the first time in 1972.  The award recognizes the exceptional achievements of an engineer whose work and involvement have improved the quality of life of the people of Quebec, Canada and elsewhere in the world. Professor Pierre was also awarded the title of Fellow of Engineers Canada, as the winner of the award. Professor Pierre shares his time between Canada and his native Haiti where he runs a center on higher education and a think tank, GRAHN-Monde.

Dela Harlley

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