President of Haiti Jovenel Moise has installed the nine members of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) after a divided Haitian Supreme Court opted Tuesday not to swear them into office.
Last Friday, Moise had named the five men and four women to the Council by a decree published in Le Moniteur, the state-owned newspaper as the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country prepares for fresh elections.
Moïse has been accused of violating the constitution by picking representatives from sectors not prescribed in the 1987 amended constitution and for mandating them to prepare a referendum to give Haiti a new constitution.
Haiti’s legislative elections were due in October last year and as a result, Moise is ruling by decree. There is currently a debate as to when the elections are due with the last being held in 2015.
Moise came to office in 2017 and there are experts saying that his term ends next year, but Moise argues that he has a five-year term and as such it ends in 2022.
The installation ceremony at the National Palace was attended by the representative of the Organization of American States (OAS) and other members of the foreign diplomatic corps.
The ceremony was held after the Court’s vice president, Jean Claude Theogene, had earlier announced that the scheduled swearing-in would be postponed for lack of quorum.
As a result, the new CEP members were installed without taking an oath.
In a brief address, President Moise, who is under pressure from the opposition parties to step down, thanked all the sectors “which understood the urgent need to be represented within the Provisional Electoral Council in order to contribute their stones to the edifice that is democracy”.
He told the new CEP members “it is in a particularly difficult context that you have made the decision to serve the Republic.
“By accepting to become members of this Electoral Council, you are doing an act of courage for which the Republic will be eternally grateful to you. Your task will be delicate and even perilous,” he said.
Moise said that at a time when discredit “is cast on the whole of the politicians and our democratic institutions, you should also expect to be slandered and challenged.
“It is normal that the installation of this Electoral Council gives rise to many debates and various positions taken,” he said, adding “democracy requires that the legitimate authorities chosen by the people be in command through free, credible, honest, inclusive, democratic and transparent elections.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Councillors, you have the heavy mission of leading the country on the path of electoral success. Your duty requires you to be neutral, impartial and courageous in the decisions you are going to take. You will not be exempt from the inclinations of more than a few corrupt yourself and even attempt to make decisions for you.”
Moise said that he was also making a “solemn commitment in the presence of all those who listen to me and who are watching me that the executive will not interfere in the decisions of the Electoral Council.
“I ask the Minister of Justice and the police authorities to guarantee the safety of all CEP members. We cannot promote democracy through intolerance, intimidation and indiscriminate violence.
“Therefore ask the judicial authorities to take note of all the inflammatory statements and public threats made against members of the Electoral Council on social networks, through the press and others. It is unacceptable to condone such behaviour in 2020,” Moise added.
Earlier this week, the United States embassy issued a tweet saying that it welcomed the appointment of the electoral council and was looking forward to the publication of electoral law and a calendar for long-overdue legislative elections