The CEP and Ti Pas Kout : The Need for a Permanent Electoral Council
The Constitution of 1987 called for the establishment of an independent Permanent Electoral Council to oversee elections in Haiti. This permanent body is to be made up of nine individuals selected by the three branches of the government.To date, this requirement of the Constitution has not been implemented.
It seems that past governments preferred the quick and easy process of naming a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) rather than following the tedious dictates of the Constitution for establishing a permanent body.Unfortunately, Provisional Councils named by those in office give the impression of not being independent. The public views Provisional Councils as a mechanism for engineering what is popularly known as a “ti pas kout” where incumbents are seen as holding elections merely as a façade to pass power to a chosen successor.Whenever a government holds elections through a body that it nominates, that casts doubts on the legitimacy of the outcome.
With the current Provisional Electoral Council, and much of the state apparatus under President Preval’s control, whoever wins the November 28 election risks being perceived as Preval’s chosen successor through a “ti pas kout.” This is the danger of having a Provisional Electoral Council.
It is true that Haitian governments have tried to work within the framework of the Constitution. This is why they have held elections through an Electoral Council. But they need to improve their level of compliance with the Constitution and implement a Permanent Electoral Council.
The duty to name a Permanent Council will fall upon the next government.The public and the Haitian Government must see to it that this takes place. With a Permanent Electoral Council, voters will be reassured that elections are more likely free and fair. And office holders will be able to campaign for their successors without it appearing that they are engineering a “ti pas kout.”