Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Opposition Wants Hand in Haiti Rebuilding Plan

Haitian President Rene Preval has shown no sign he is willing to include opposition groups in reconstruction planning.

Faced with a disaster of overwhelming proportions, Haiti's fractious political opposition is trying to set aside its differences and work with President Rene Preval to reach a consensus on how to rebuild the devastated country.

The objective, several political leaders said, is to cooperate with Preval's government in drawing up a unanimously backed reconstruction plan and an arrangement for broader political leadership during the emergency. The plan, they said, would be presented to a donors' conference scheduled for March 28 at the United Nations, and would be used in discussions with the international relief bureaucracy that has mushroomed in the country since a magnitude-7 earthquake shook Haiti on Jan. 12.

Running through the discussions is a widely shared sentiment that the destruction caused by the earthquake, and the expected arrival of hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid, should become a departure point for fixing the economic and political rot that for years has made Haiti one of the poorest, most unstable and most corrupt countries in the hemisphere.

"For this exceptional situation, we need an exceptional government," said Myrtho Bonhomme, an aspiring presidential candidate who is a former ambassador and rector of Haiti's largely destroyed Diplomatic and Consular National Academy.

But Preval has shown no sign he is willing to include opposition groups in reconstruction planning or to agree to the special assembly - a "national conference," perhaps, or a "state council" - that the opposition is mulling. He has been working mainly with U.S. and other foreign aid officials, out of sight of the Haitian public, to deal with the havoc wreaked by a temblor that killed an estimated 200,000 people and left a million homeless.

A spokesman for Preval, Assad Volcy, said he was unaware of the opposition discussions or of Preval's attitude toward a broadened emergency leadership. Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive recently suggested that the government knew of the proposals, but added that some opposition leaders were trying to capitalize on the misery to promote disenchantment with the government.

Deploying a broader leadership for relief efforts and reconstruction planning would better mobilize the energy of the country's 9 million people and encourage them to take more responsibility for their fate, said Himmler Rebu, an army colonel under former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and founder of the Platform of Haitian Patriots, a right-wing alliance. He added, "The international community cannot rebuild Haiti."

Source: SFG
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