Save for a few brief mentions (New York Times, Associated Press), the major English language media has all but ignored the news that – as reported by Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste – four CEP members may never have signed the document affirming the Council’s decision regarding the second round of elections. This is despite the fact that one of the four, Ginette Chérubin, released a public statement to the media (available here in English and here in French), and that she revealed – with his permission – that CEP Vice President Jean-Pierre Toussaint Thélève did not sign either. Le Nouvelliste reported that the two other CEP members who did not sign were Treasurer Jacques Belzin and member Ribel Pierre.
As we noted on Monday, the implications of this are far from trivial. In the opinions of some legal experts, such as the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, the even split within the CEP would mean that there was in fact no decision taken. As IJDH notes
Article 8 of the CEP’s bylaws requires that the Council’s decisions be made by an “absolute majority of its members.” Therefore, a valid decision regarding the run-off would require five votes.
It appears that the only basis for earlier reports of a CEP “decision” on a second round was the Thursday morning statement by CEP spokesperson Richardson Dumel. It is unclear why the words of a CEP member such as Chérubin should not be given, if not equal weight to Dumel’s, more serious consideration in the media than to be reported as mere hearsay. Since Chérubin identified Toussaint Thélève as another who did not sign, presumably the press could contact him for more information – not to mention Jacques Belzin and Ribel Pierre, to confirm the reports that they are the other non-signers.
It is also notable that the CEP has not posted anything on its website about the “decision”, other than a PDF that simply proclaims Manigat and Martelly to be the winners of the first round, with no explanation or background information provided. The most recent press release is dated January 18.
More importantly, Roberson Alphonse reports in a Le Nouvelliste front page story today that
the final results of the first round of legislative and presidential elections of 28 November are not yet published in columns of [the] official gazette the Monitor, five days after its submission by the [CEP], Thursday, February 3, 2011. (Google translation)
Alphonse also quotes Fritz Longchamp, the general secretary of the presidency, as saying that "Until yesterday it had received nothing from the [CEP].” He goes on to report that the CEP’s delay in publishing the official results is creating political complications:
…Steven [Benoit], elected in the first round in the Senate, is getting impatient. "I expect my certificate [from the CEP] proving that I won the elections in the first round," he said, explaining that it is urgent for him to get to work quickly. "We must get to work. The four senators elected in the first round must obtain their certificates at the earliest. The Senate is dysfunctional and the quorum is precarious." (Google translation)
It is unfortunate that so much of the foreign press has neglected this news so far. Hopefully journalists are currently reaching out to Chérubin and other CEP members in order to get to the bottom of this important story.