Passport

Haitian birtherism

Haitian President Michel Martelly has, for months, faced accusations that he holds  a U.S. passport, making him ineligible for his office. Now, the country’s senate has taken up the debate, as the newspaper Haiti Liberté reports:  Two weeks ago, Sen. Moïse Jean Charles submitted what he called “irrefutable” evidence to a special Senate Select Committee ...

ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images
ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

Haitian President Michel Martelly has, for months, faced accusations that he holds  a U.S. passport, making him ineligible for his office. Now, the country’s senate has taken up the debate, as the newspaper Haiti Liberté reports

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.[…]

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.

For an explainer piece last year looking at the question of whether Barack Obama might be eligible to run for president of some other country after producing his long-form U.S. birth certificate. Not every country’s constitution is quite as specific as America’s when it comes to the lifelong citizenship status of their heads of state. Haiti’s is, however: 

To be elected President of the Republic of Haiti, a candidate must:

a. Be a native-born Haitian and never have renounced Haitian nationality;

b. Have attained thirty-five (35) years of age by the election day; 

c. Enjoy civil and political rights and never have been sentenced to death, personal restraint or penal servitude or the loss of civil rights for a crime of ordinary law;

d. Be the owner in Haiti of at least one real property and have his habitual residence in the country; 

e. Have resided in the country for five (5) consecutive years before the date of the elections;

f. Have been relieved of this responsibilities if he has been handling public funds.

The five consecutive years requirement was what foiled Wyclef Jean’s presidential aspirations last year. The constitution also states that any citizen that holds a foreign passport automatically renounces his Haitian citizenship, which is the rap against Martelly. Sweet Micky denies the charge:  

“It’s a conspiracy organized by people who can’t believe Michel Martelly is [going to be] the country’s President,” Martelly, aka “Sweet Micky,” told a Port-au-Prince radio station. “I’m Haitian, I never renounced my citizenship, my passport is Haitian.”

There doesn’t seem to be any credible proof to the contrary. But it also seems that given the number of people who’ve fled Haiti’s violence, poverty, and natural disasters over the last two decades, barring them from returning to serve in office is a bit impractical.

Hat tip: Marginal Revolution

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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