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Haiti Liberte: Hebdomadaire Haitien / Haitian weekly news

Edition Electronique

Vol. 8, No. 28
Du  Jan  21  au  Jan 27. 2015

Electronic Edition

Kòrdinasyon Desalin: Conférence de presse


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Dropping Jean-Claude Duvalier case “a disgrace”

Dual Nationality in the Martelly Government:
Tensions Grow as Senate Investigation Proceeds

by Isabelle L. Papillon

The confirmation that senior Haitian officials hold foreign nationality lends growing credence to a leading senator’s charge that Haitian President Michel Martelly is a U.S. citizen and hence illegally in power.

            Two weeks ago, Sen. Moïse Jean Charles submitted what he called “irrefutable” evidence to a special Senate Select Committee that Martelly and 38 other high government officials hold dual, and sometimes triple, nationalities.

            On Jan. 24, Sen. Joseph Lambert, the Commission’s president, announced in a press conference that the Commission has confirmed dual nationality for two of the 10 cases it has investigated to date. However, Lambert has so far refused to release the names of dual citizenship officials, saying his commission would proceed “impartially” and “without emotion.” He said arrangements have been made to continue the nationality investigations overseas.

            The Senate inquiry threatens to create a political crisis which may force President Martelly, his Prime Minister Garry Conille, and other ministers to step down. If the charges against him prove true, it means that candidate Martelly lied to election officials about holding dual citizenship, which current Haitian law explicitly forbids for a high elected official.

            Sen. Jean-Charles has remained unwavering in his accusations, ruling out any possibility that he is mistaken. This week, he said the situation is in fact “much more serious” than he had previously described.

            Commission member Sen. Steven Irvenson Benoît said that Haiti’s 1987 Constitution prohibits any foreign national not only from becoming president or prime minister, but also from acting as a minister or secretary of state. The Constitution’s Article 56 stipulates: "An alien may be expelled from the territory of the Republic if he becomes involved in the political life of the country, or in cases determined by law."

            Sen. Benoît called on all double nationality officials to step down, saying “any minister or secretary of state whose foreign nationality is proven must immediately resign.” He also pointed to legal precedents in recent years where three Senators – Sajous, Boulos and Ultimo – have been forced to resign for holding dual nationality.

            Sen. Jean Hector Anacacis, who has remained discreet about the investigation until now, broke his silence this week to support Sen. Jean-Charles’ charges. “The proof is starting to come out now,” he said. “The information communicated by Sen. Jean-Charles is beginning to be confirmed.

            Sen. Anacacis also suggested that certain Commission members, presumably Sen. Lambert and Sen. Youri Latortue (both close Martelly allies), were looking for an “escape hatch” for the government officials being caught in the investigation’s tightening noose.

            Meanwhile, the Senate’s Vice President Andrice Riché said it was “scandalous that a foreign citizen can deceive the vigilance of Haitian institutions to enjoy privileges to which he is not entitled.” He argued that “these citizens would have nothing against [Haiti’s military] occupation” by UN troops, because “they are true to nothing.” Sen. Riché argued that “giving up Haitian nationality is an act of treason and the authors of such an act should not have responsibilities in the management and decision making for the country. If you said no to Haitian nationality, you said no to the country.

            He concluded that “it is unfortunate and scandalous that after more than 200 years of independence, the president’s citizenship is in doubt.

            As the crisis deepens, members of Haiti’s traditional political class have also begun to take positions. Evans Paul, the spokesman for Alternative, a front of social democratic political parties, called for respect of the Constitution, saying that President Martelly will have to pay “the consequence of his lack of principles” if the double nationality charge against him proves true.

            Meanwhile, Sauveur Pierre Etienne, the general coordinator of the Struggling People’s Organization (OPL), suggested that Sen. Jean-Charles’ charges were simply tactics in the fight over “how to divide the cake” of power. He proposed that Haiti’s “democratic opposition” find “new tactics” to act as an “arbiter” in this matter which could generate a “political crisis more serious than we can imagine.”

            Pierre-Etienne said that if Martelly did not resign in the face of proven charges, he doubted that the Chamber of Deputies would be able to muster the 2/3 majority necessary to impeach him because “certain deputies would be tempted to accept bribes not to prosecute the chief of state.”

            However, Ghettos United, a front of popular organizations from Port-au-Prince shanty towns like Cité Soleil, Bel Air, La Saline, and Martissant, warned the Senate Commission that it would “shift into high gear” if the Senators refused to “tell the truth” and engaged in “monkey business” (magouy) about Martelly’s nationality. In a spirited press conference, Wilson Mésilien, a Ghettos United spokesman, accused Martelly of having tricked the population and violated the Constitution which he swore to respect and enforce. Backed by a chorus of slumdwellers, Mésilien charged the government with practicing “demagogy, corruption, theft, lying, and bluff tèt kale,” a Kreyòl term meaning bald-headed and completely, previously a Martelly slogan.

            The National Initiative to Strengthen Lavalas (INARF), in a Jan. 19 press conference, said it took very seriously Sen. Jean-Charles’ charges. INARF’s Secretary General, former deputy Willy Sénatus, denounced the conduct of political parties which participated in the 2010-11 elections that allowed foreigners to be leading the country. “Haitian people, INARF believes it is time for political parties stop plotting against the interests of the country, destroying the lives of Haitians in the interest of foreigners,” he said.

            Another grassroots group, the Citizen Opposition Movement (OMC), called for respect of the 1987 Constitution. Previously pro-Martelly, the OMC said it was now opposed to the “Tèt Kale” government, said OMC spokesman, Remulus Telong. “We in the Citizen Opposition Movement, in spite of ourselves, declare that we are now in opposition to the team "Tet Kale, kale tet" which seeks to deceive the people of Haiti with a so-called program ‘kaba grangou’ or ‘to end hunger,’ while the prices of all essential commodities continue to rise dizzily on the market.

            Finally, the Collective of Militants in Revolt raised their voice to denounce the presence of “foreigners at the helm of the Republic.” Since this violates the Constitution, they demanded the immediate resignation of all foreigners in the government and “the establishment of an interim government” to hold new “inclusive but legal” elections in the next few months.

            Haiti’s largest party, the Lavalas Family of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has been excluded from all elections since the coup d’état against him on Feb. 29, 2004.
Vol. 5, No. 29 • Du 1er au 7 Février 2012

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