Haiti denies FNM 'vote ploy'

By DANA SMITH dsmith@tribunemedia.net HAITI'S president Michel Martelly did not intend to interfere in Bahamian politics when he told Haitian-Bahamians to identify "who is on their side" in the upcoming general elections, Haitian Ambassador Antonio Rodrigue said. The ambassador spoke yesterday as political rivals of the FNM expressed concern over Mr Martelly's comments - which they claimed were the result of a "political ploy" by the governing party. On Wednesday, Mr Martelly advised Bahamians of Haitian descent to band together and lobby for a political party they feel would best protect their interests. "I told them to organise themselves and identify in this upcoming elections who is on their side," he said. "By being determinate in the elections they may have people taking care of them, this is the democratic way." Mr Rodrigue claimed the president was misunderstood and stressed he was not trying to be political. "I think people are taking it out of context and people here try to put it as a political effort. "No, he wants to tell them - and this is something I think is normal - look out for your interests, look for who is helping you, who has your interests. "He didn't mention any person, any group, anything in particular," Mr Rodrigue said. "It was not his intention to get into the politics of the Bahamas. That's not his intention and I think it's a misunderstanding or maybe people try to twist what he said just for political reasons, but the president respects the choice or the politics of each country. Never would it be his intention to get involved in those things." As for accusations that Mr Martelly's statements were an endorsement of the FNM, Mr Rodrigue said the president's visit had "nothing to do" with the FNM or any other party, and pointed out the president visited with both the FNM and PLP leaders. "It was not his intention saying that to endorse anyone in this election," he emphasised. Mr Rodrigue explained the president only meant Haitians should organise among themselves and not necessarily in support of a particular party. "He didn't talk about any party, he said Haitians have to organise themselves. It's something I think is very important because Haitians here are kind of isolated so when they put themselves together they can work better," he said. Mr Rodrigue called it "unfortunate" that the president's comments were "twisted." An official statement released by the Haitian Embassy last night said: "President Martelly's sole purpose during his stay in the Bahamas was to seek opportunities to improve the lives of Haitians, so they don't have to migrate to other countries. "At any moment, President Martelly did not intend to interfere in any way in the internal politics of the Bahamas."


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