Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Playing politics in Haiti

Posted on Wednesday, 10.28.09

Playing politics in Haiti

Haiti headed for disaster in effort to oust prime minister

The Miami Herald

(Read the original article here)

As the end of the hurricane season nears, it appears Haiti may avoid getting hit by a natural disaster this year. Not so for man-made disasters, however.

A political maelstrom is brewing that could destroy the international effort to rebuild Haiti following a series of storms that ravaged the island last year. This menace takes the form of an effort in the Senate to remove Prime Minister Miche`le Pierre-Louis, who has managed the government capably in the 14 months since she was appointed by President René Préval.

Ms. Pierre-Louis was ratified by the National Assembly after her predecessor was fired, ushering in a needless and prolonged period of political bickering over who would fill the position. All this followed years of instability and political violence that came to a halt only after U.N. peacekeepers arrived.

Now Haiti has a chance to turn the page. Only three weeks ago, former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy Bill Clinton led a historic trade mission to Haiti that held out the promise of new investment and new jobs, both of which Haiti desperately needs. Investors need to be reassured, though, that Haiti's leaders can manage their political affairs without needless upheavals and unrest.

Removing Ms. Pierre-Louis for no good reason sends precisely the wrong message. Sen. Jean Hector Anacasis, a leading adversary, told Miami Herald Caribbean correspondent Jacqueline Charles that there is too much discontent among the populace because of the slow pace of recovery. That's a thin reed upon which to hang the current government. Recovery has been slow because of scarce resources, but that is not the prime minister's fault.

On the contrary, Ms. Pierre-Louis has apparently won the confidence of international groups and potential investors. Her removal would destroy momentum to rebuild Haiti with support from abroad.

President Préval must try to halt this oncoming disaster by strongly expressing his backing for his prime minister. He has been too quiet through this whole affair, as if it does not concern him, yet he is the head of state, and his party controls the Senate. He has a responsibility to lead, and now is the time to show it.

Ms. Pierre-Louis has been summoned to the Senate on Thursday, where she will surely be mauled by her adversaries, and then probably voted out of office.

What a shame. It would produce another round of musical chairs in which ministers leave office to be replaced by other ministers who barely have time to learn their jobs before another government falls and they, too, are booted. That's a recipe for unending political instability, the last thing Haiti needs.

Haiti's 10 million people deserve better. Their leaders should think about them, for a change, instead of playing politics with Haiti's future.

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