The Moïse-Lafontant government enters 2018 disoriented, without a road map

EDITORIAL : par Oierre Quiroule II

  • The Moïse-Lafontant government enters 2018 disoriented, without a road map

Since the end of 2017, rumors about change of the ministerial cabinet have intensified. So much so that the president of the Senate and the National Assembly, Youri Latortue, intervened to say he supports the idea. As for President Jovenel Moïse, whose responsibility it is to enlighten the nation regarding his objectives for the New Year, he failed to indicate what are his plans for the future of the remainder of his five-year term. Having assumed power without a social project, except for his wild electoral promises, he seems more comfortable with uncertainty than with concrete action. With no road map when he began his presidency, he’s still totally disoriented as he will round up soon his first year at the helm.

As Jovenel Moïse moved from Candidate to President, he was expected to set benchmarks for his government. He failed to do so when he was inaugurated February 7, 2017. And on January 1st, 2018 marking Haiti’s 214th Independence Day, he again failed to meet that obligation. In the process, he left himself open to criticism by those who question his competence and that of his advisers and entourage. This way of proceeding appears to comfort those who question his competence as well as that of his advisers and immediate entourage to lead the country in the right direction. Obviously, the national boat seems adrift, with no hope for a short-term recovery on the horizon. There’s cause for worry and one wonders what will happen as the nation faces a deep socio-economic crisis. Won’t the citizens turn to innovative and daring actions to save the day ?

Indeed, instead of indicating his plan of action for the future and laying out his plan to achieve his goal, President Moïse turned to the people for guidance as to what path to take going forward. As President Moïse spoke in Gonaïves, at the commemoration of Haiti’s Independence Day, he showed a lack of imagination, as if he were deprived of material and intellectual resources to move for- ward for the remainder of his five- year term. Instead of reassuring the citizens, he asked them questions that revealed his dismay, throwing the people in more confusion. One would have expected the president to assume the responsibility that is his in running the show. But as we enter the new year, the Chief of State has left his constituents on a limb.

It was a distraught President Moïse calling the citizens to his rescue, asking them to show him the direction to move forward, how to steer the national ship to reach its destination. The questions he asked in the Gonaïves speech are clear proof that he has lost his way. Alluding to the sacrifices made by the founding fathers of the nation, he affirmed that the legacy of our ancestors “is threatened.” Here is what he says : “What should we do with the country ? Are we ready for the new challenges ? And so forth !

Elsewhere, in his speech, Mr. Moïse reinforces the idea that he doesn’t measure the effect of the words he just throws in the air. He fantasizes, as if he were dreaming and putting all to sleep while still standing up. During his first year in office, he systematically made crucial political decisions unilaterally. Now, without any prior apology, he boldly invites all to work together for the collective happiness. We should concert to bring us together. President Moïse further says : “What can bring us together is neither our real or imagined past, nor a vague idea that we are one people sharing the same fatherland. What will bring us together now is what we seek together, what we want to do together. This is what we believe together. …“

In that speech, the Chief Executive wants to be a rallying factor. Without any warning, he thinks he can act unilaterally. He can just overlook decisions he had taken dictatorially throughout his first year in power.

He thinks all should forget his belligerent attitude expressed in his “The president has spoken, that’s final.‘’ He thinks also that it‘s alright for him to change his tune whenever he wants by declaring, “It’s either take it or leave it.“

People can‘t so soon forget the decision made by an elected but yet-to-be-sworn-in Jovenel Moïse to organize the National Carnival in Les Cayes, in the south, immediately after the passage of Hurricane Matthew. Though the region was frightfully recovering from heavy damages, Mr. Moïse ignored contrary opinion from the vast majority of citizens. Can they forget his unilateral decision to create his special commission to establish the Permanent Electoral Council (French acronym CEP) against the advice of a majority of concerned sectors ? In addition, he launched his “Caravan of Change” without any consultation. He paid no attention to those who advocated for investing the resources in more viable projects with total transparency as to their funding. Also, the Haitian president has ignored the disagreement expressed by large sectors of the country in relation to remobilizing the Haitian Armed Forces. He ploughed ahead without accounting for their financing or the necessity for such an institution in the current socio-political environment since its banishment in 1994.

The latest decision taken unilaterally by the Head of State was announced in his January 1st speech. He has moved to set up sectorial organizations to ponder on the general status of the country. Always listening to himself, he again displayed the attitude of doing as he pleases, ignoring other political sectors which had been clamoring for a national organization to dwell on the general status of the country.

In taking unilateral decisions, Jovenel Moïse has mobilized important resources of the country to invest in projects that have no real future. Through a national consensus, those same resources could have been used to finance other initiatives offering lasting results. Almost all the projects initiated by the Banana Man since he moved into the National Palace result from negotiations conducted between his advisers and PHTK parliamentarians in total obedience to the president, without any participation of the citizenry.

Clearly, in his last speech commemorating Independence Day, Jovenel Moïse displayed incoherence. He behaved like a lame duck president, limiting his actions to managing current affairs and leaving his successor a free hand to set up his government. Yet, next door in the Dominican Republic, President Danilo Medina declared “2018, the year of export promotion.“ In other words, the Dominican Head of State proposes exports as the base for his country’s economic growth — at the expense of the Haitian economy. Here again, President Moïse and his team have shown their insufficiency. They lack the presence of mind to take steps toward organizing a tax system de- signed to recover taxes on imported foodstuffs from the neighbor next door. Most goods from the Dominican Republic cross the border freely, paying practically no royalties to Haiti’s Treasury.

As it is, President Moïse should have spent his first year at the National Palace learning how to govern. Granted, on his inauguration on February 7, 2017, he had shown himself devoid of political savvy. But as the Year 2018 rolls in, he hasn’t changed. In fact, he’s found in complete political lethargy, unable to bring the slightest hope to the nation. He hasn’t told the citizens that their situation will improve in the next twelve months. Totally confused and without a road map, President Moïse doesn’t seem to have the wherewithal to succeed in the remainder of his five-year term.

cet article est publié par l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur, édition du 2 octobre 2019 Vol. XXXXIX no.39, et se trouve en P.11 à :