Sunday, January 28, 2007

Corruption in Haiti’s senate?

Haitian senator Gabriel Fortuné has leveled a charge most grave that his colleagues in the Haitian body politic were bribed in exchange for voting (18 in favor, 16 opposed) for a negotiated resolution to a complex financial squabble between the Banque de la République d'Haïti (BRH) and the Société Caribéenne de Banque S.A. (SOCABANK). Fortuné, a senator from the Union party, stated that several senators were bribed by SOCABANK officials to vote in favor of the resolution and that, as he has already apprised senate president Joseph Lambert of the situation, he will produce proof of the corruption this coming week.

Fortuné, it may be recalled, while serving in Haiti‘s Chamber of Deputies, survived an attack that killed deputy Jean-Hubert Feuillé in 1995, and was jailed without trial by the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide for two weeks during the latter's second term in office in 2001, Last month, he charged that the former president and sectors of his Fanmi Lavalas party were behind much of Haiti’s plague of kidnappings,

The BRH, readers will remember, is the Haitian state financial institution that was left in a shambles following Mr. Aristide’s 2001-2004 turn as Haiti’s president, with the nation’s public deficit measuring 3% of the country’s GDP and the government having defaulted on two separate contracts designed to provide the Haiti with electricity, totaling $12m.

As Haiti is at such a sensitive place right now, with president René Préval looking to conclude his first full year in office (in May) with some tangible benefit to be shown to Haiti’s long-suffering people, the accusations of corruption are particularly worrisome. One hopes a full, thorough and transparent investigation into the matter will soon follow.

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