PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) – A day before the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSPJ) is to meet to re-vote on Permanent Electoral Council (CEP) members, two of the three councilors chosen in July’s sham vote said they are “irremovable” and would not resign no matter the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.
Salnave Exantus and Yves Benoit Jean-Marie, during a press conference held on Monday, October 8 2012, at CEP headquarters in Petion-Ville, said they are not responsible for errors, if any were committed by the institution which appointed them. Councilor Jean-Marie said:
“I took an oath in front the Court of Cassation. It is true that I was chosen by the Supreme Council, but now I want to remind the public that I am an election counselor. The CEP is an autonomous and independent body, thus I am immovable under the Constitution…”
Jean-Marie’s colleague, Salnave Exantus, was no less emphatic. He did not understand why the case of their appointments aroused debate in the population and the press. Exantus said:
“We understand very little debate… we are not accountable to the Supreme Council as soon as the order in which we were appointed has been published. The Constitution makes us irremovable judges… we need to do our work in peace. We are ready to organize free, fair and democratic elections…”
According to the two electoral advisers, only the High Court – formed by the senate after being indicted by the chamber of deputies – can dismiss them if they have committed a crime. “If we make serious mistakes in our work, we are ready to respond to these faults before the High court,” said Salnave Exantus.
It is true that the nine Permanent Electoral Councilors serve 9-year terms (except for this first CEP which has a third of its members which will serve 3 years and another third 6) and cannot be removed without an impeachment process similar to one that would be used for the president.
The three representatives of the CSPJ to the CEP were chosen in irregular circumstances. Not even a majority of judicial councilors were present for the vote and caused the resignation of two of the institution’s members. The CSPJ which suffers from legitimacy issues itself resolved to hold a re-vote with more of its 9 members present.