This is a very long and complicated story.
On 9 May 2011, at the very end of President Préval’s term of office, the legislature in Haiti passed a series of amendments to the 1987 constitution. On 3 June 2011 the new President, Michel Martelly, issued a decree cancelling the amendments because of procedural irregularities. There were questions about whether the wording of the amendments was the same in the version that was sent to the president and the version that was officially published. There was also an issue about the process by which the amendments were adopted and with the fact that there was no creole version. So, there was the potential for different jurisprudence depending on the language of the text that was considered.
The controversy has dragged on for more than a year. However, President Martelly has now rescinded his previous decree. So, the amendments come into force.
The changes are very extensive. A total of 128 articles were amended. They included some very controversial matters, such as the creation of a permanent electoral commission, a constitutional council, and gender quotas for legislative elections. There were also a lot of minor changes to executive/legislative relations.
Apparently, the text will be republished in the official journal, Le Moniteur, again.
Haiti has a new PM. Following the vote of the Senate previously, at the end of last week the Chamber of Deputies approved the nomination of Laurent Lamothe.
The nomination is all the more interesting because PM Lamothe is a very close personal and political friend of President Martelly, who does not have a strong organised party basis. Therefore, what we are seeing is the extent of the de facto presidential majority in Haiti. In other words, the general degree of support that the president can command over and above party support.
It is clear that the president enjoys more support in the Chamber of Deputies than in the Senate.
The next step is for PM Lamothe to have his declaration of general policy approved by the two chambers. Normally, the PM investiture vote is the key stage and he has just passed this step. So, the two chambers should approve the declaration. However, there is always the chance that they might not. Therefore, even though Laurent Lamothe is PM, he is not yet sure of being the head of government, if you see what I mean.
In other words, the saga of appointing the PM/government is not yet over. More to follow.
The appointment of Laurent Lamothe, the PM-designate of Haiti, has been approved by the Senate.
According to Radio Kiskeya, the PM-designate was approved by 19 votes to three with one abstention.
His nomination will now go to the Chamber of Deputies for approval. If that goes ahead, then he will issue a declaration of general policy that also has to be approved by both chambers. At that point, the government will be formed. Haiti has been without a government now for about six weeks.
I really try hard not to be judgmental in this blog, but this is a truly inefficient process.
In Haiti President Martelly has nominated a new PM. He is Laurent Lamothe, who is reported to be close to the president. The ratification process has scarcely begun. Given the usual difficulties, Haiti can expect to be without a PM for some time.
The broader problem for President Martelly is that the ‘nationality’ issue refuses to go away. The Constitution states that the president must ‘never have given up Haitian nationality’ and must have lived in Haiti for 5 consecutive years prior to the election. These requirements apply to the PM as well.
According to Radio Kiskeya, President Martelly is accused of having become a naturalised American in the past. The PM-designate, Laurent Lamothe, is also likely to be questioned on both counts. The Senate is leading the investigation. It is not inconceivable that they could try to impeach the president or render his election null and void on these grounds. The likelihood of PM-designate Lamothe being ratified must surely be very small.
So, Haiti is in a very unstable situation at the moment. The non-partisan president has few allies. The opposition in the legislature cannot fill the political vacuum. This is a dangerous mix.
Less than four moths after his appointment was ratified by parliament, the prime minister of Haiti, Gary Conille, has resigned. Le Nouvelliste cites his very brief resignation letter, suggesting that relations between the president and the PM were not harmonious.
The deterioration of presidential/PM relations has been apparent over the last few weeks. A key issue has been the ‘nationality problem’ that has dogged President Martelly. Parliament wants to confirm the Haitian nationality of the president and government minister. The PM wanted ministers to send the necessary documents to parliament. They refused, seemingly at the president’s request, and only the PM sent his. Then, also at the president’s request, they then changed their mind and sent the necessary documents. It also seems that they did so when PM Conille had planned to hold a government meeting.
It seems as if President Martelly had decided to abandon the PM and the ministers were willing to support the president. The PM was absent from last week’s carnival celebrations, again indicating that he was no longer in the loop.
So, the long process of nominating and ratifying the PM of Haiti begins again. Expect many more posts!
In Haiti, Gary Conille has been approved as Prime Minister by the legislature.
Previously, his individual nomination was agreed by the two parliamentary chambers. Now, his government’s programme has been approved. This is the final step of the process.
In the Chamber of Deputies, Radio Kiskeya reports that the programme was approved by 81 votes to 0 with 7 abstentions. In the Senate the vote was 16 votes in favour, 4 against and 5 abstentions.
The list of government ministers is available here. Three Senators have been appointed to the government. This was part of the deal that allowed the approval of PM Conille.
In Haiti the nomination of PM-designate, Gary Conille, has been approved by the Senate. Radio Kiskeya is reporting that the nomination was approved by 17 votes to 3 with 9 abstentions.
On 29 September, PM-designate Conille met with the so-called G-16 group in the 30-seat Senate. According to a report, the discussions concerned the “division of responsibilities” in any future government, namely ministerial posts for certain senators. In a further report, there are more details of the specific deal that seems to have been struck. In the end, 15 of the 16 members of the G-16 group supported M. Conille, allowing his ratification.
Now, M. Conille must constitute his government and prepare a statement of general policy. This statement must be approved by a absolute majority in both Houses. So, the government-formation process is not yet complete.
In Haiti the nomination of PM-designate, Gary Conille, has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies. In fact, the nomination was approved by all 89 deputies who voted! What a turnaround.
The nomination now goes to the Senate. Radio Kiskeya is reporting that at least one senator has denounced the vote. One of the major stumbling blocks seems to be the constitutional requirement for residency in Haiti. PM-designate Conille has been absent on UN business. The Chamber of Deputies decided to find a way around this potential problem. The Senate may not do so.
In recent posts, I have been describing how Haiti’s premier-presidential presidents have a habit of acting like president-parliamentary leaders. Here is another example.
Radio Kiskeya is reporting, supposedly authoritatively, that the PM-designate, Gary Conille, considered withdrawing his nomination because President Martelly’s advisers wanted him to sign an undated letter of resignation.
Here is the rub. Haiti has a premier-presidential system. The president cannot dismiss the PM. However, by requesting an undated letter of resignation, the president’s advisers effectively wanted to change the regime to a president-parliamentary system, where the president can dismiss the PM.
There were rumours that in France in the 1970s President Giscard d’Estaing insisted on an equivalent letter, though in the end it was never used even if it existed.
Apparently, M. Conille has stood firm and refused the request. His nomination has yet to be debated by the legislature.
In Haiti, President Michel Martelly, who took office in May 2011, has nominated his third prime minister. The first two nominations were rejected by parliament, one by the lower house and one by the upper house.
The new nominee is Garry Conille, a UN administrator. He was a former minister under Jean-Claude Duvalier. There is some information in French about him here.
Since the previous nominee was rejected, there have been discussions between the president and members of the Senate and the National Assembly. However, there is no sense, publicly anyway, that this nomination is the result of any sort of deal between the president and the legislature. It looks as if this is another nominee that the president wants the legislature to accept on its merits.
If so, then it is not obvious why this nomination will succeed where others have failed. The logic of Haiti’s premier-presidential constitution is that the president should appoint a cohabitation PM. Instead, President Martelly is acting like a president-parliamentary leader and keeps nominating independents, hoping to manufacture a majority.
In this regard, there was an interesting article in Le Nouvelliste yesterday, citing the former prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive. He commented that cohabitation was “too sophisticated” (his words) for Haiti. He said that cohabitation was likely to occur only in countries with strong and organised parties and that this was not the case in Haiti. It is an interesting hypothesis.