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a488: BBC: Haiti: Opposition urges "light of transparency" as ricescandal comes to boil (fwd)




From: Robert Benodin <r.benodin@worldnet.att.net>
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jan 26, 2002


[Presenter] The Democratic Convergence wants President Aristide to show
transparency in the rice scandal, which [allegedly] involves Lavalas
parliamentarians and the Aristide Foundation for Democracy. In a statement
issued on 24 January, the main opposition coalition asks the president to
explain the [alleged] embezzlement of about 117m gourdes [approximately 4.6m
dollars] by his supporters, to the detriment of the Haitian state. This is
what Democratic Convergence spokesman Paul Denis said:
[Denis] //The 117m gourdes is not a small amount of money. This money could
be used to pay 17,000 schoolteachers for three months. This money has been
shared at the table of the Lavalas fat cats. It will harm the Artibonite
rice producers. It will put them in conflict with the importers who have
franchises and do not pay tax. What about the importers who do not have
franchises and who do pay tax?
You [President Aristide] will never be able to do anything for your Lavalas
people's organizations because you have allowed the Lavalas fat cats to take
117m gourdes. How will you be able to help all the children who are dying of
malnutrition if the Lavalas fat cats have deprived them of this money?
Needless to say, these Lavalas fat cats have made a fortune in the illegal
sale of oil, sugar, cement and so forth. We would like to know about the
active role that the Aristide Foundation for Democracy has played in these
illegal dealings.
There is no way you can talk about economic terrorism anymore, after your
government has caused the state to lose all this money. What role has the
finance minister played in this deal? What role did the state banks play? We
would like to know what you are going to do to ensure that that money is
returned to the state accounts. Will you agree to an independent commission
to investigate the dossier? If you do not shine the light of transparency on
the Lavalas rubbish bin, then the Democratic Convergence will contact
lawyers here and abroad to see how it can defend the interests of the
country, the interests of the Haitian people in order to thwart the plans of
the Lavalas thieves, who do not respect themselves or the possessions of the
state.//
Source: Radio Metropole, Port-au-Prince, in French 1145 gmt 25 Jan 02
/BBC Monitoring/  BBC.