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Haiti government removes high court judges after ballot ruling

[JURIST] The interim government of Haiti [JURIST news archive] has removed five of its ten Supreme Court judges in what it called an “administrative measure, to improve the efficiency of the court.” Many speculate that the forced retirement of the five is a political response to the presidential candidacy of Dumarsais Simeus [campaign website], a Haitian-born US millionaire. The Haitian constitution [text] does not allow dual citizenship, and the interim government fears that Simeus will cause a political crisis in the already fragile government. Two of the five judges retired Friday supported an earlier Supreme Court decision to allow Simeus to run for president because no one has proven that Simeus is a US citizen. The decision was announced in October [JURIST report] and upheld Thursday [Simeus campaign report]. In November, the Haitian Electoral Council defied the Supreme Court and ordered that Simeus be taken off of the ballot [JURIST report]. Michel Brunach, chief of staff for interim President Boniface Alexandre, disputed the charge that the retirement announcement was a political move, claiming the government decided to retire the judges long before the announcement on Friday. The December election marks the first since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide [BBC backgrounder] was ousted in February 2004 [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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