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26560: (news) Chamberlain: Haitian panel wants two off presidential ballot (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Two Haitian-born U.S.
citizens should be barred from presidential elections expected next month,
a panel appointed by Haiti's interim government said.
The recommendation, which clashes with a ruling by Haiti's highest
court, said candidates Dumarsais Simeus and Samir Mourra should not be
allowed to run for the Haitian presidency because they hold U.S. passports.
Last month the Supreme Court ordered the electoral council to put
Simeus' name on the final list of approved presidential candidates, who
number nearly three dozen.
It was unclear whether election officials would follow the
commission's recommendation or comply with the Supreme Court.
Following the ruling on Simeus, the government announced the top court
would no longer have the authority to decide appeals against decisions made
by election officials.
In a letter to Haiti's electoral council dated on Tuesday, the
commission said Mourra left Port-au-Prince for the United States with a
U.S. passport on Jan. 30 while Simeus entered Haiti on March 13 with a U.S.
Mourra called the decision discriminatory and contested the
commission's authority to decide election matters.
"Only the electoral council has the constitutional authority to decide
who could run and who could not and it had already said I could," he said.
"I am a Haitian and I never renounced my Haitian nationality," said
Mourra, who acknowledged he had obtained U.S. citizenship.
Simeus also said he rejects the commission's decision.
"As far as I am concerned, Haiti's highest court, which is the only
constitutional institution left to the country, said I could run. It's
over," said Simeus. "I am only waiting for the electoral council to add my
name to the final list of approved candidates for president as ordered by
the Supreme Court."
The commission is made up of three cabinet members and the two chiefs
of staff for President Boniface Alexandre and Prime Minister Gerard
Latortue, the leaders of a U.S.-backed interim government appointed after
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was driven into exile during a 2004
The commission's president, Justice Minister Henri Dorlean, said his
panel would investigate the nationality of other candidates as election
The president of the electoral council said he would announce a
schedule by the end of the week for elections that could take place by the
end of the year.
But a growing number of candidates and Haitian politicians doubt
proper elections could be held in December because of a lack of