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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 December 2005, 05:04 GMT
Haiti sacks Supreme Court judges
By Claire Marshall
BBC News

Haitian interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue
Gerard Latortue ordered the judges into early retirement
Five Supreme Court justices have been fired in Haiti, a day after the court ruled that a Haitian-born US millionaire could run for president.

No reason was given for the sudden sacking of around half of the Supreme Court bench.

They were fired on the direct orders of the interim Prime Minister, Gerard Latortue, and his justice minister.

The government criticised the decision to allow Dumarsais Simeus to run in January's presidential elections.

Despite not yet being on the official ballot, Mr Simeus, who lives in Texas, was shown by the first independent opinion poll conducted to be one of the favourite contenders.

However because of his joint US-Haitian nationality, which is against the constitution, a presidential commission barred him from standing.

The Supreme Court's decision, which confirms an earlier ruling, goes directly against this, saying that he should be allowed to run.

Now the judges said to be responsible for this decision have been sent into early retirement.

One Haitian commentator told the BBC that it clearly appears to be a punishment of these justices.

In a country ravished by insecurity, less than a month before Haitians are due to elect their first leader since the ousting of former President Jean Bertrand-Aristide, this is an unwelcome further sign of serious political instability.


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