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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

New cabinet for Haiti is sworn in amid uncertainty

CSMS Magazine EditorialSix political parties take part in Haiti’s new cabinet that formally replaced the US-backed interim government appointed to lead the country after Aristide ouster in 2004. According to Reuters news agency, “President Rene Preval said the 18-member cabinet, made up of members from six political parties, was the result of a new “spirit of dialogue” and he urged Haitians to work together to overcome the “mistrust” among deeply divided political factions.”The swearing-in of the cabinet brings the final step in a long process to formally transfer power from a two-year-old interim government installed after the former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, left for exile in Africa. “We are on the path to recovering our dignity and sovereignty,” Preval said in a speech at the National Palace. “The dialogue has begun, and the dialogue will continue, but I need everyone’s help.”The formation of this new government is most likely to create suspicion and more uncertainties than it is to achieve Preval’s desired aim. Few people in the masses believe in the reconciliation plan that the president never stops talking about. Also, it appears this time that the strategy of promising little or nothing in order to make every token change a success will not work. The Preval-Alexis government MUST make genuine changes if it is to succeed.However, the makeup of this government does not offer the popular confidence needed to enjoy, at least, a temporarily quiet atmosphere in the poverty-ravaged corners of Haiti. Already, there are concerns that the violence that flared unabated before and during the election is again underway. Kidnapping, robbery, and random killing are once again on the rise, according to many on the ground. On top of that, daily demonstrations to demand Aristide return are increasing sharply.The new cabinet, outgoing interim ministers and foreign diplomats attended the ceremony. Noticeably absent was the former interim prime minister, Gerard Latortue, who left the country for the United States last month. He was said to have a leg ailment. That may have been the little white lie needed to justify his escape since he is also said to be back at his home in Boca Raton, Florida, where he had been living before he was hired by Collin Powell—then US chief diplomacy—to oversee the interim government.  Haiti is not a safe place for former politicians who have been in power and who have abused it to satisfy their petit-bourgeois taste. What Latortue did to Yvon Nepturne, Aristide former Prime Minister who was jailed shortly after the coup and still remains in jail, could have very well happened to him. During his tenure, corruption within the state bureaucracy had reached an unbearable proportion.   The new cabinet includes several members of Preval’s Lespwa party and representatives from five other parties, including Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas. Preval urged the new ministers not to replace “serious-minded” civil servants hired by the interim government. That, he said, had been an error of successive administrations over the last 20 years. Preval dismissed the fact that cronyism has always been the main drive behind recruiting people in government positions. In fact, the makeup of this new government is a mere example. Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, 58, who will lead the cabinet, has served as Prime Minister for two years during Preval’s 1996-2001 presidency.Preval, a 63-year-old former political activist, says national unity is essential to restoring security in Haiti and allowing the withdrawal of a UN peacekeeping force led by Brazil. Having said that, Preval has implicitly acknowledged the fact that Haiti is not an independent country. But those with whom the president is dying to “reconcile” in order to help restore Haiti’s independence and past glory are the very people that have just been resoundingly rejected by the masses during the last election, are the very people who conspired to bring Haiti under foreign occupation, and are the very people whose social justice is the least of their concerns.In CSMS Magazine, we believe that the burden of proof on Preval and his government, and the people who voted him into office have constitutional right to demand change if that burden could not be met. The coming days will be critical; but the people need to remain vigilant. As they say in Creole, “Anafè pa dòmi di.” (Deep sleeping is not good for endangered people.)

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