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6536: Wanted in Haiti: a true opposition (fwd)

From: Hyppolitep@aol.com

On Sunday, November 29, 1987, a group of thugs went to a local BV in 
Port-au-Prince Haiti, at Ruelle Vaillant. There, they massacred with guns and 
machetes, peaceful
voters who were testing Haiti's nascent democracy. 

The front runner in these presidential elections at that time, was a man 
named Gérard Gourgue, former member of the CNG (Conseil National DE 
Gouvernement), that had
taken over power after Duvalier had fled. But because Gourgue was against the 
military's stand on many issues and their well-documented abuse of power, 
they decided to cut his chance of becoming the next president of Haiti. So 
they did, through violence.

Marc Bazin at the time was also a candidate. It was also unlikely that he 
would have won the elections against Gourgue. Despite that fact he decided 
thereafter, when the military decided to have a sham election, not to 
participate. Leslie Manigat however did. And he won. Or so said the soldiers. 

In late 1992 or early 93 (I do not recall the exact time frame), Bazin agreed 
to play the role of Prime Minister for the Cédras click. One important side 
story at the time however, was that he (Bazin) refused to sit on the 
presidential chair at the National Palace, claiming that only the president 
should sit there, and that he wasn't. In January 1999, after René Préval the 
current president of Haiti, adhered to the constitutional provisions and did 
not prolong the expired mandate of the do-nothing
OPL dominated Parliament, Bazin came out and warned the whole opposition that 
the Lavalas movement is "une force incontournable" (an intricate and strong 
part of the
political process). Recently, after the November 26 presidential and 
senatorial elections, Bazin came out again and met with the future president 
and current leader of Fanmi Lavalas. He came out of this official meeting, 
making measured statements in a conciliatory tone, and urging the Groupe De 
Convergence to act as a responsible opposition force. Alas, they're still 
behaving to his day, as though they are the political wing of a guerilla army.

What we can observe from Bazin's behavior since the aftermath of the November 
1987 incident is important. He seems to be -despite his flaws and insofar his 
inability to capture the hearts and minds of the electorate- a man who is 
more committed to the process itself than the power. His roles have angered 
more than one at different times.

What seems to be consistent with him however, is his willingness to play the 
role of a facilitator rather than that of an obstructionist. This is very 
important indeed.

If in fact we believe wholeheartedly in implementing democracy in Haiti, we 
need people and leaders who are as much concerned about the validity and 
integrity of the process, as they are about the economic, social and 
intellectual stability of the nation.

An opposition even when not in power, can and usually does play a vital role 
in a nation's stability and its policy directions. The most recent proof of 
that is, the
exemplary behavior of VP Albert Gore who, despite the fact that he believed 
he won the U.S. elections, gracefully stepped aside in respect of the Law, 
for the benefit of the nation. 

I believe it's Dr. Lafortune who recently sent a post here on Corbettland, 
suggesting that we should take seriously Haiti's intelligentsia and some of 
its leaders like Manigat and Gérard Pierre-Charles. Granted, these guys are 
brilliant intellectuals in the Greco-Roman tradition. But I wonder about 
their emotional intelligence when for instance, Manigat in a recent post on 
Haiti On Line, suggested that in 1990, Aristide may have not even won 67 
percent of the vote. I wonder about a Gérard Pierre-Charles whose band at the 
Parliament between 1995 and 1997, was nothing but a group of obstructionists 
who could not even vote for a budget for more than two straight years. Are 
they so entangled in their hatred for Aristide and the Lavalas movement as a 
whole, that they are willing to harm the country? Or rather, is it that they 
are so thirsty for power that they cannot deal with the obvious, the 
tangible, the real? Why in the world are they trying to formulate a new 
government to replace René Préval on February 7, 
2001, when the Haitian electorate have given a constitutional mandate to 
Lavalas, and chosen a new president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide?

The real question to me is, how do you deal with such situation? Shouldn't 
Lavalas encourage Bazin to strengthen his political party, the MIDH, so that 
they can be a real challenge to us in future elections? Or should Lavalas 
keep trying to negotiate with an 
opposition that is more interested in usurping power, through the help of 
some big name Member of the International Community, rather than winning it 
through democratic means? At this time in the game, shouldn't Lavalas simply 
ignore them as a whole, but deal with perhaps individual members of their 
party who are willing to join in Aristide's future government? 

Everyone seems to be talking about the instability in Haiti. But no one seems 
to be willing to look at one of the major sources of this instability: the 
political opposition under the leadership of the Groupe De Convergence. 
Shouldn't we all start to rethink our strategy and help as much as we can, an 
opposition that is mostly loyal as explained here by John Kozyn in a recent 
post, rather than a disloyal one? 

Happy New Year, Haiti! Peace, prosperity and much love!

Hyppolite Pierre