Haiti's Preval Seeks to Amend Term Limit
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian President Rene Preval on Wednesday called for a constitutional amendment to allow presidents to serve consecutive terms — a change he said would bring more stability to a country frequently mired in political chaos.
Preval, in a speech at the National Palace, proposed overhauling the country's entire constitution to give the government more flexibility to promote development and fight corruption.
He suggested holding all national and local elections on the same day every five years, and recommended creating a constitutional court to interpret the nation's laws. He also said the president should have the power to dismiss the prime minister — who is now appointed by the executive, but can only be ousted by parliament.
Current rules limit Haitian presidents to two terms, with at least a five-year break in between. Preval's initial proposal, which spokesmen said he would refine before submitting to parliament, would allow future presidents to serve those terms back-to-back.
Preval, who won his second nonconsecutive term last year, assured legislators he could not, and would not, seek office again.
"I know that as soon as the president asks to reflect on the constitution, it gives rise to suspicion," Preval said. "I repeat once again for everyone: My tenure comes to end on Feb. 7, 2011, period."
Haiti's current constitution was signed in 1987 after 29 years of dictatorship and was intended to impede any return to authoritarian rule.
Preval urged lawmakers to work with him to overhaul the document, which he called the single greatest threat to Haiti's long-term stability.
Preval said the amendment process is slow, needing the approval of two-thirds of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies and requiring they then wait until the next session of parliament to implement the changes.