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Convicted Cocaine Trafficker Ernst Jeudy Running for Parliament in Haiti

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Convicted Cocaine Trafficker Ernst Jeudy Running for Parliament in Haiti

A candidate headed into next month’s runoff for Haiti’s parliament was convicted of cocaine trafficking in Miami-Dade County.

Ernst Jeudy, 58, who is seeking to represent one of Haiti’s most lucrative tax bases, the city of Delmas, was charged with cocaine trafficking and possession with intent to distribute after Miami-Dade police said he checked in a tote bag at Miami International Airport. The controlled substance — nearly a half-pound of cocaine — was detected by a dog.

“The above defendant was taken into custody,” said the police. “The defendant was found guilty … sent to 3 1/2 years.”

Jeudy’s 1987 guilty plea for cocaine trafficking escaped Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council. The council, known as the CEP, qualified Jeudy along with 1,845 other candidates to run for 139 legislative seats in the violence- and fraud-marred Aug. 9 vote.

“After finishing counting all of my tally sheets with my campaign team, I want to tell the people of Delmas ‘Thank you’ for the sacrifice they made to give me victory in the first round,” Jeudy, who is already calling himself Deputy, wrote on his Facebook page the day after the vote.

Jeudy didn’t win, according to preliminary results, but finished second of 33 candidates for the lower house seat with 12 percent of the vote. The city, located in metropolitan Port-au-Prince, had one of the lowest voter turnouts at 6 percent. The city’s former mayor, Wilson Jeudy, is Ernst’s cousin and founder of the party, Randevous, he’s running under. Wilson Jeudy, spokesman for Ernst and the party, did not return a phone call from the Herald seeking comment.

Jeudy’s conviction and presence in the race are yet another example of Haitian officials’ failure to require a police background check. The oversight, human rights advocates and others say, contributed to the attack of polling stations during the vote and could lead to a parliament of legal bandits.

“The legal department of the CEP didn’t do its job,” said Pierre Esperance, the executive director of the National Human Rights Defense Network, which published a report earlier this year questioning the moral character of 31 candidates who were “in conflict with the law.”

“There are a lot of candidates with huge criminal files before the police and in foreign countries, yet they didn’t do anything about them,” Esperance said. “This is why we say these elections are going to produce a lot of kidnappers, drug traffickers and others in parliament who have committed crimes.”

Under Haiti’s electoral law and constitution, a person running for office should not have been convicted of a crime. The fact that Jeudy was convicted in the United States should not have any bearing, said Esperance, noting that in June the CEP booted out Levelt Francois after approving him because of a drug conviction.

Asked about Jeudy’s case, Pierre-Louis Opont, the president of the elections council, told the Herald that officials received a document on Monday regarding the case indicating that Jeudy had been convicted in the U.S. for drug trafficking. The document was accompanied by a letter from Jean Martin, the Fanmi Lavalas challenger who finished behind Jeudy with 9.8 percent of the votes.

“The CEP is currently checking this information with representatives of the U.S. government in Haiti,” Opont said, adding that “the electoral decree specifies that even after a candidate is elected, he can still be removed.”

With more than 6,000 elective posts up for grabs and 41,000 candidates, elections officials cannot research everyone, he said, adding that “the CEP cannot ask for what the law doesn’t require.”

Unlike human rights advocates, Opont said he does not believe there “is a causal relationship between the [election day] violence and the absence of police certificates because in many places supporters of candidates and former lawmakers” were alleged to have been behind the polling station attacks.

Last month, a Haiti National Police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the reason so many suspected criminals have slipped through the cracks and are now running for elected office is because this is the first time the law governing elections does not require candidates to produce results of a police background check.

News of Jeudy’s criminal background comes as candidates and elections observers continue to wait on the publication of the final results from the first round of the legislative races for 20 Senate seats and 119 seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies.

The preliminary results have not only produced an avalanche of disputes from candidates at the Departmental Electoral Bureau of Litigation (BCED), but they have heightened calls for the vote to be annulled.

On Thursday, opposition parties again protested, demanding cancellation of the elections, the resignation of Opont and the departure of President Michel Martelly. They plan to continue their protests Friday by demonstrating in front of a Petionville hotel where elections officials are hosting a breakfast with candidates.

“The CEP and I have received a lot of attacks,” Opont said at a Thursday news conference where he denounced his critics and reiterated plans to lead the process until the end of the elections.

A decision earlier this week by Verite, a leading opposition party backed by former President René Préval, to not go to elections with the current CEP because it lacks credibility had not affected the body, he said.

Verite’s decision, however, has triggered fears by electoral observers that it could lead to an unraveling of the process and embolden beliefs by some that Haiti could be headed for a caretaker or transitional government.

Late Wednesday, another political party, Pitit Dessalines, joined the chorus of criticism by calling on the CEP to halt the campaign, which opened for the presidential race two weeks ahead of schedule. Final results should be published but only after the sanctioning of additional candidates accused of election day violence and ballot stuffing.

“For four long years, the founders of the Pitit Dessalines platform mobilized and insistently pounded the streets to say that nothing good for this country could be expected from the Martelly government, particularly with regard to elections,” the party said in a statement. “We had a clear vision of today’s trenches.”

Esperance said the elections council suffers from a lack of credibility and trust.

“We don’t see how the process can advance without the CEP resolving its many problems,” he said.

And while many are demanding Opont’s resignation, Esperance said the entire nine-member council is responsible for problems with the vote. For example, a CEP member was in the Central Plateau, where the human rights assistant program director, Marie Yolene Gilles, reported she saw armed candidate Willot Joseph enter a polling station with armed men and created a ruckus. Joseph is a former member of the lower Chamber of Deputies who in 2006 was elected to office while in jail for vehicle theft.

Another CEP member assigned to Grand’Anse said on the eve of the vote, her vehicle was attacked by partisans of Bouclier, a party close to Martelly. So far, neither Joseph nor Bouclier has been sanctioned.

The National Human Rights Defense Network along with two other observer groups, National Council Observation (CNO) and the Haitian Council of Non State Actors (CONHANE), have issued a detailed report on election day and called for an independent commission to investigate. At least 50 percent of the 1,508 voting centers registered acts of intimidation, violence and fraud, the report said.

Esperance said members of the three observer groups met with CEP members Sept. 2.

“We met with the CEP last Wednesday and posed the problem to them,” Esperance said, “but we don’t sense that the corrections will happen.”

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

International

Syria al-Qaeda Leader Attacked, Unsure of His Survival

An air strike struck Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in the Syrian province of Idlib on Sunday, based on unconfirmed reports.

The Egyptian is second-in-command to overall al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to BBC News.

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An air strike struck Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in the Syrian province of Idlib on Sunday, based on unconfirmed reports.

The Egyptian is second-in-command to overall al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, according to BBC News.

Syrian opposition forces, the Local Co-ordination Committees, posted a photo of the car which was targeted for the attack, as stated by them.

Car with roof shattered is shown in photo taken from Syrian opposition activists

The car, in the town of al-Mastuma, was targeted by “international coalition aircraft”, the group said.

Additionally, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that an al-Qaeda official was killed in a strike, but did not confirm it was Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.

The Egyptian, whose real name is Abdullah Muhammad Rajab Abd al-Rahman, was reportedly released from custody by Iran in 2015 as part of a prisoner swap.

Last year, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was reported to have given his blessing to a decision by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, to cut formal ties with the global jihadist network.

The Syrian jihadist with ties broken with al-Qaeda had renamed its name to Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, as reported by CNN.

According to Ahmad Hasan Abu al Khayr al-Masri, al-Qaeda has embraced the split. The man Masri would replace as an upranking to No. 2 of the leadership position in the terror group, is al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri expressed his opinion on the split in a supportive manner and called for infighting between jihadist groups to end.

Although Jabhat Fateh al-Sham was no longer linked to an external entity, the U.S. still kept it on its list of foreign terrorist groups and continued to target air strikes.

Therefore, in January, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham dissolved itself and formed an alliance with four smaller Syrian jihadist groups called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. The move seemed to deem an attempt by the group to distance itself from al-Qaeda.

Tahrir al-Sham as since then fought rebel groups for control of the Idlib province in Syria, implying that it was them who had instigated suicide bombs on Saturday against the military in the government-controlled city of Homs.

Although the death of Abu al-Khayr al-Masri is uncertain, the Guardian has stated that he has been killed based off of what jihadists are stating.

The immediate circumstances of Masri’s death were unclear. Video online showed a tan four-door Kia sedan destroyed at a roadside with a large hole in its canopy but its windscreen mostly intact. The location of the attack was unusually far west for a US drone strike.

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International

Honor Killings are Never Justifiable, Not Ever or Anywhere!

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I have decided to shed some light on some insights about honor killings, amidst one that occurred in my parents’ home country, Pakistan, yesterday. An upcoming supermodel by the name of Qandeel Baloch was killed by her brother in Multan, Paksitan while her parents were in their bedroom, asleep. The model was allegedly there to visit family or for other reasons. The brother who strangled her to death, reportedly after he drugged her, was interviewed and showed no remorse for his wrongdoing. Of course, what he did is inexcusable in all ways and is unsurpassable as a violation and a wrongdoing!

Baloch’s brother, who took her life, was embarrassed by his sister’s career as a supermodel and was aghast at her actions in this profession. This, however, can never justify the fact that he felt he had to end her life. Not only in this culture, mostly and especially in Pakistan’s rural areas, is this prevalent. It happens in other areas of the world and this is not attributable to Pakistanis or any type of Muslim or the religion itself, Islam. Anyway, surely you can recall the incident that was reported on television a few years ago. A man killed his daughter by running her over with a car, as well as her attempts to kill her boyfriend and his mother. He killed her because she had a boyfriend.

Oppressing women is not taught in any culture or religion, and is inexcusable in any way. A woman has the right to live however she pleases, at least I genuinely believe in this, and she should not have to fear for her life.

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Breaking News

Turkish Military Attempts to Overthrow President

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted to the nation Saturday that his government is in charge following a coup attempt brought a night of explosions, air battles, gunfire and unrest across the capital and left at least 90 dead, 1,154 people wounded and more than 1,000 military personnel detained.

In a press conference at Ataturk Airport, Erdogan said the architects of the coup attempt would “pay a heavy price” and vowed he would “not surrender this country to intruders.”

A senior Turkish official told the Associated Press that 1,563 military personnel have been detained in the coup attempt.

A Turkish lawmaker contacted by Reuters said he and his colleagues were hiding in special shelters in the bowels of the parliament building after at least three explosions near the complex in the capital, Ankara. Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman told the Associated Press a bomb hit one corner of a public relations building inside the parliament complex, injuring some police officers.

Elsewhere, troops also fired in the air to disperse a growing crowd of government supporters at the Taksim monument in Istanbul as military helicopters flew overhead. A nearby mosque made an anti-coup announcement over its loudspeakers.

Erdogan insisted that the coup attempt wouldn’t succeed.

“They have pointed the people’s guns against the people. The president, whom 52 percent of the people brought to power, is in charge,” he said. “This government brought to power by the people, is in charge. They won’t succeed as long as we stand against them by risking everything.”

In his TV address, Erdogan blamed the attack on supporters of Fethullah Gulen.

Erdogan has long accused the cleric and his supporters of attempting to overthrow the government. The cleric lives in exile in Pennsylvania and promotes a philosophy that blends a mystical form of Islam with staunch advocacy of democracy, education, science and interfaith dialogue.

Turkey’s allies, fellow NATO member nations and world leaders swiftly reacted Friday to an attempted coup Friday night, which could spur immense implications, not only in the Middle East, but also in the West.

“The United States views with gravest concern events unfolding in Turkey,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.

He said the State Department was “monitoring a fluid situation,” and “emphasized the United States’ absolute support for Turkey’s democratically-elected, civilian government and democratic institutions.”

The U.S. State Department urged U.S. citizens in Turkey to shelter in place during the attempted coup.

President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation. “The president and secretary agreed that all parties in Turkey should support the democratically-elected government of Turkey, show restraint and avoid any violence or bloodshed,” a White House statement said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote in a tweet that he spoke with the Turkish foreign minister. “I call for calm, restraint & full respect for Turkey’s democratic institutions and constitution,” Stoltenberg wrote, without saying what actions, if any, NATO would take. Turkey joined NATO in 1952.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm as the world body sought to clarify the situation, said a U.N. spokesman.

“The Secretary-General is closely following developments in Turkey. He is aware of the reports of a coup attempt in the country. The United Nations is seeking to clarify the situation on the ground and appeals for calm,” said spokesman Farhan Haq.

Britain’s government was also monitoring the turmoil. “We are concerned by events unfolding in Ankara and Istanbul. Our Embassy is monitoring the situation closely,” a British foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson also said he was “very concerned.”

The foreign minister of Turkey’s neighbor to the east said he was “deeply concerned about the crisis in Turkey.”

“Stability, democracy & safety of Turkish people are paramount. Unity & prudence are imperative,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote in a tweet.

Slovakia, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, said on Saturday it was following the events unfolding in Turkey with serious concern, and was coordinating appropriate reaction with EU partners.

“Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has been in intensive contact all evening with EU high foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini and other European colleagues,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“He has also been in contact with partners in the Turkish government with the aim to clarify the situation in Turkey and discuss steps that the EU should take with the aim to maintain and support democracy and stability in the country.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was “in constant contact with EU delegation in Ankara and Brussels from Mongolia.” She called for “restraint and respect for democratic institutions.”

The Kremlin said it was gravely concerned. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that President Vladimir Putin was being kept constantly updated on the situation in Turkey.

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