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Preval’s plan for Haiti crisis

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Preval’s plan for Haiti crisis

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In the face of ongoing political tension in Haiti over the disputed results of last month’s presidential and parliamentary elections, President Rene Preval has returned to an earlier suggestion to extend his term with a three-month period of “emergency” rule.
While angry mobs have been resorting to killings of voodoo priests they blame for the spread of the dreaded cholera epidemic, and the Provisional Electoral Council is yet to sort out arrangements for a second-round contest among the leading presidential contestants, the Haitian leader chose to issue a clear and strong warning at the weekend:It would be “unwise”, he stressed, to replace his administration (which constitutionally ends next week on January 7) with a “transitional government” pending the outcome of verified results from a new round of elections.
When he first raised this suggestion for consideration, it was not seemingly taken seriously by the relevant domestic stakeholders, foreign governments or the United Nations that are all involved in the electoral arrangements for a new parliament and administration in Port-au-Prince.
Then, neither the extent of angry political protests over the results that produced no clear winner as president, nor the spread of violence sparked by rumours over the cholera outbreak, was envisaged.
In the prevailing circumstances, it may indeed be unwise to continue to ignore Preval’s proposal for a limited three-month extension of his presidency. Risking the consequences of a transitional government, the legitimacy of which can be expected to be questioned from Day 1, could well result in more bloody conflicts, greater instability and suffering for the mass of Haitians.
While United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon gives consideration to improved arrangements for the UN peacekeeping mission in  that crisis-ridden Caribbean nation, the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should perhaps offer some indication where they stand on the Preval proposal.
Both CARICOM and the OAS were involved in monitoring last month’s controversial election. They are also fully aware of the immense sufferings of Haitians and the precarious state of governance in what is being increasingly referenced as “a failed state”.
Given the uncertainties for the future, the OAS and CARICOM ought to know that it may be better to endorse an extended three-month emergency administration under Preval’s leadership, whatever the reservations, rather than taking a gamble with a “transitional” government.