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25831: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti's interim government fires Supreme Court (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Haiti's interim government
fired all five Supreme Court justices on Friday, a day after the court
unanimously ruled for the second time a Haitian-born U.S. millionaire could
run for president.
The justices were fired in an executive order signed by U.S.-backed
interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue and Justice Minister Henri Dorlean.
The order did not give a reason for dismissing the justices, several of
whom were appointed by ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The government, which immediately appointed five new justices, had
criticized the court's decision ordering election authorities to put
candidate Dumarsais Simeus on the ballot for the Jan. 8 presidential
Election officials appointed by the interim government had said Simeus
was ineligible because he had obtained U.S. citizenship and Haitian law
bars foreign nationals from running. Simeus, who runs a Texas food
processing company, said he never renounced his Haitian citizenship and the
Supreme Court ruled him eligible for the ballot.
Ballots for the election have already been printed and Simeus is not
among the 35 approved candidates whose names appear.
The presidential and legislative elections would be Haiti's first
since Aristide was driven into exile in February 2004 during an armed
rebellion. A runoff is scheduled for Feb. 15 if no candidate wins on the
An opinion poll released on Friday showed former President Rene Preval
leading the race with the support of 32 percent of likely voters, followed
by Simeus with 21 percent. Their closest pursuer, former President Leslie
Manigat, had support from 5 percent of the respondents.
Turnout had been strong at demonstrations supporting Preval, who
served as prime minister in 1991 during Aristide's first presidential term.
The poll was conducted by the Gallup organization and one of its Latin
American affiliates, Consultoria Inter-disciplinaria en Desarollo, known as
CID, for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The survey of 1,200 likely voters was conducted during the first half
of November and was released by the U.S.A.I.D. at its headquarters in
The elections had been delayed from November and U.N. peacekeepers are
still struggling to establish order in the poor Caribbean nation amid
rising gang violence and kidnappings for ransom.