Now DNA seeks Haitian votes

By DANA SMITH dsmith@tribunemedia.net THE DNA has now joined the PLP in the race to secure the "Haitian vote" - just weeks after blasting the FNM government over the same accusation, it was claimed yesterday. Well-placed sources said party officers held a series of meetings with members of the Haitian-Bahamian community in an effort to "gather voters". Robertson Dieudonne, of the United Association of Haitians in the Bahamas, confirmed a meeting with DNA leader Branville McCartney took place on February 16 at Metropolitan Church of the Nazarene on East Street. But rather than an attempt by the DNA to attract voters, he said, the meeting was held to "discuss immigration policy". The meeting came a little more than a week after Haitian President Michel Martelly's heavily-criticised visit and a week before PLP leader Perry Christie also met with the association at another church. According to Mr Dieudonne, Mr McCartney "came to discuss his immigration policy and any misunderstandings regarding it". The former immigration minister also spoke on "comments he would have made in regards to Haitians" to a crowd of around 60, Mr Dieudonne said. "Most persons were surprised he was there and some persons were a little bothered, but it was a very respectful meeting and I think he left with a lot more information that he came with. We were able to enlighten him with a lot of things he professed not to know." The conversation was kept "centered" around Bahamians of Haitian descent and discussed were the "negative ramifications" of policies concerning Haitians and Bahamians of Haitian descent and "what (Mr McCartney) intends to do if he wins next election," Mr Dieudonne said. He said Mr McCartney should "focus on key issues" such as children born in the Bahamas to Haitian parents having difficulty getting "entitled documents" such as citizenship and school scholarships. Earlier this month, the DNA publicly condemned President Martelly's advice to Bahamians of Haitian descent to band together and support 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," Mr Martelly said. "By being determinate in the elections they may have people taking care of them, this is the democratic way." The DNA, as well as the PLP, expressed concern over Mr Martelly's comments, claiming they were the result of a "political ploy" by the governing party. Haitian Ambassador Antonio Rodrigue denied those claims, stating the president was misunderstood and did not intend to interfere in Bahamian politics. Mr McCartney, as well as representatives for Metropolitan Church, could not be reached for comment. The FNM has repeatedly denied it invited Mr Martelly to the Bahamas, or encouraged him to tell Haitian-Bahamians who to support. The PLP has remained silent on the nature of its meeting with the Haitian-Bahamian community since it was uncovered by The Tribune last week.


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