[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]


From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Posted on Thu, Jun. 08, 2006

President Préval's chance to govern

Haitian President René Préval's new cabinet is a heartening sign of a break with the winner-take-all tradition of Haitian politics. In one of his first significant moves, he has named members of five opposition parties to work with him. That's a positive effort to unify a nation splintered by warring political factions for far too long. The multi-party cabinet and Mr. Préval's 25-year development plan provide a measure of hope for a nation that has been on the brink of anarchy. But the true test will come as they set about the task of governing.

For the greater good

That's particularly the case for five former ministers brought back into office by Mr. Préval, including Prime Minister JacquesEdouard Alexis, and opposition cabinet members. Their job is to look out for the greater good, not just for a political party or other narrow interest. Now is their chance to show that Haiti can be set on the road to an independent, prosperous, well-functioning and inclusive democracy.

The new government needs to focus on improving Haiti's security, economy and governance. Those are tough challenges best conquered with cooperation among all players in Haitian society. Such inclusive government has been virtually absent in Haiti's history. The rule of dictatorships gave way to democratically elected governments in 1990. Yet even then, political payback and violence led to increasing misery.

Mr. Préval's government would be wise to try to heal social rifts created by decades of class warfare. Up per- and middle-class people who may not have voted for Mr. Préval still have a stake in improving Haiti's future. The government should engage the business community and groups representing the poor in the hard work of rebuilding.

One way to signal a fresh start -- both at home and to the international community -- is for the Préval government to address the issue of thousands of prisoners who have not been convicted of crimes. Among them is former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, widely considered a political prisoner because of his ties to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Panels of Haitian and international jurists could be convened to review each case and determine its merits.

Support and investment

In this way, Mr. Préval can demonstrate the importance of judicial fairness and an impartial rule of law -- regardless of the politics involved in any given case. It will also be an antidote to corrupt judicial practices.

President Préval has the opportunity to set the tone for a new Haitian way, one of inclusiveness, political debate and compromise and respect for divergent views. Not only would such an approach encourage international support and foreign investment, but it would also lay a foundation for a stable democracy.