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Pm: 'We Did Not Invite President'

By CHESTER ROBARDS Tribune Senior Reporter crobards@tribunemedia.net THE Bahamas government did not invite Haitian President Michel Martelly to the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham explained Saturday, after he received harsh criticism over the leader of the troubled Caribbean state's visit. Mr Ingraham told the media during a press conference in North Andros, that any head of state whose citizens or former citizens reside in the Bahamas, can visit without the consent of the government in order to meet with his countrymen. "The Bahamas government did not invite President Martelly to the Bahamas," Mr Ingraham said. "There is no need for the Bahamas to invite the president of Haiti or any other president of a friendly country to the Bahamas. "Any head of government from any country can have their head of government visit the Bahamas at any time they choose. They don't require our permission." According to Mr Ingraham, governments are contacted by heads of state in order to ensure that proper security and protocols are in place for their visit. He took heavy criticism from opposition leader Perry Christie and Democratic National Alliance leader Branville McCartney for Mr Martelly's visit. Both men saw the Haitian president's trip to the Bahamas as a political ploy to secure votes by the Haitian-Bahamian populous of the Bahamas before the next general election. Both Mr Christie and Mr McCartney, as well as many other Bahamians, became incensed when Mr Martelly told his people to vote for the party that would best protect their interest. It was then assumed that Mr Martelly was instructing his people to vote for the FNM. Mr Ingraham said that if Mr Christie took issue with the Haitian President's remarks, he should have taken it up with him when they met the next day. "Presumably, if Mr Christie had an issue with what Mr Martelly said, he would have raised it with President Martelly while he was at Mr Christie's house, he certainly would not have waited until last night at his candidate launch to hear from Mr Christie. "Clearly, that's what I would have done if I had taken issue with a statement President Martelly would have made," he said. And Mr Ingraham explained that he did have an issue with Mr Martelly's assertion that children of Haitian descent born in the Bahamas are stateless before the age of 18 when they can legally apply for citizenship. "Such persons are not stateless, they have the nationality of their parents," he said. "Under our constitution, which differs from the Haitians, which differs from the American constitution, persons born in the Bahamas of non-Bahamian parentage do not have a right to Bahamian citizenship until they reach the age of 18."

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