838.011/75: Telegram

The High Commissioner in Haiti (Russell) to the Secretary of State

125. Referring to the Department’s draft of article 72 of the amendments to the Constitution. President Borno points out that if President died or the office otherwise became vacant after 5 or more years the proposed text would only permit of the election of a President for a few months and he would then become ineligible. In view of the scarcity of Presidential timber in Haiti, President Borno believes this amendment would impose an undue hardship on Haiti and he proposed to return to the situation existing under the Constitution of 1889 with a change from 7 to 6 years. This situation was fixed by articles 90 and 93 of said Constitution.

Following this idea article 90 would become article 71 [72] of the Constitution of 1918 to be amended to read as follows:

“Article 72. The President of the Republic is elected for 6 years and is not immediately eligible for reelection. He will begin his duties on May 15, except when he is elected to fill a vacancy; in such case he is elected for a term of 6 years and his functions will always expire on the 15th day of May even though his 6 years are not completed. Any person who has served as President becomes eligible for reelection after an interval of 6 years. A citizen who has been elected President twice shall not thereafter be eligible for office.”

Article 93 of the Constitution of 1889 is replaced by Article 77 of the Constitution of 1918. That article, therefore, should be amended to read as follows:

“Article 77. In case of vacancy in the office of the President, the Council of the Secretaries of State is temporarily clothed with the Executive power.

“It will immediately convoke the National Assembly for the election of his successor.

“If the Legislative Assembly is in session, the National Assembly will be convoked without delay. If the Legislative Assembly is not in session, the National Assembly will be convoked in conformity with article 45.”

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Amendments made in this form I believe carry out President Borno’s ideas which appear to be entirely reasonable and meet with the Department’s views.

As the Council of State is now in session awaiting to vote on the amendments an early reply is requested.