Touria Prayag's Blog

l’express Weekly, 2 March 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on March 5, 2012

Of mountains and molehills

The redrawing of constituencies has put the government and the opposition at loggerheads, with the opposition itself being divided on the issue and the president of the republic neck- deep in what seems to be a cacophony. Whether or not we are heading for a constitutional crisis as some political observers have been warning is hardly the question at this point. The real issue is whether the game is worth the candle.

This whole hullabaloo about municipal elections and gerrymandering is diffi cult to understand. For one thing, municipal elections are something which most citizens, rightly or wrongly, ( that is irrelevant here) do not give two hoots about. They have far more pressing issues to deal with to even seek to understand what the debate is about. And for another, weren’t these issues hashed up in parliament ages ago and settled for good, we thought? Because the big confusion, verging on a crisis, we are neck- deep in today is dangerous for the reputation and credibility of our institutions, it is in order to take a step back and shed light on the events. Hervé Aimée presented a bill with several schedules to parliament. There was disagreement and a heated debate over the schedule concerning the new boundaries and who is entitled to draw them. A debate which was justi- fi ed considering that we have two statutes in our constitution pertaining to local government, one dating from 1989 and the other one from 2003 which creates an incongruous situation. The opposition walked out at the time of the vote and the bill was passed. The opposition threatened to go to the Supreme Court to declare the bill unconstitutional. They should have done so. It would have been good for democracy. They didn’t, thus missing a chance to settle the issue once and for all.

The president of the republic did not credit their thesis. Not only did he give his assent to the bill but he also declared to the press that there was “ nothing illegal” about it.

Suddenly, the debate is back on the table with more viguour and venom.

The MMM’s position is not clear. While Paul Bérenger has offi cially dissociated himself from the leader of the MSM in his accusation of “ ethnicisation of towns”, and while he expressed his faith in the Electoral Commissioner’s Offi ce, he still maintains that there was gerrymandering. A position which is very uncomfortable in the light of the recent declaration made in a communiqué put out by the ECO yesterday.

The MSM is in an even more uncomfortable position: its ministers sat through ministerial committees when the bill was drafted and formulated.

They did not raise a peep then. Besides, what difference does this make to them anyway? It’s not as if they are likely to have more than zero candidates elected ( that is if they fi eld any) wherever the boundaries are placed. Oh, but it’s a question of principle, you see. Really? How? The president of the republic is not a court of law. He has no legal powers to declare the act anti- constitutional. Nor does he pretend to have any. All he can do if he is not satisfi ed is suggest the redrawing of the boundaries. Those who really want to fi ght for principles should go to the Supreme Court and have the whole issue settled once and for all. In the meantime, let’s please get on with the elections. We cannot afford any more delays!

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