Officials exit government over Martelly's remarks to woman

PORT-AU-PRINCE— A hostile comment made by Haitian President Michel Martelly at a campaign rally has set off an uproar in his coalition government, leading a politically allied party to announce the resignation of three officials from his administration last week.

The leader of the Fusion Social Democrats told reporters that two Cabinet ministers and a secretary of state will leave Martelly's government due to the president's comments to a woman in the port city of Miragoane.

"This is inappropriate. Enough is enough,'' Edmonde Supplice Beauzile said at a news conference announcing his party's vote to remove its three officials, which include the minister of women's affairs.

Martelly was at a rally July 29 when a woman accused his government of incompetence and complained that it failed to bring electricity to her community. Video broadcast by Haitian media show the president dismissing her with coarse, sexist language, telling her in Haitian Creole to "go get a man and go in the bushes" to have sex. Many in the crowd at the nighttime rally erupted in cheers and laughs at his remarks.

A presidential spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Loss of the three officials from a core part of the coalition is unlikely to affect the outgoing president's ability to govern. Martelly, who took office in May 2011, is in the final year of a five-year term. He has been governing without a legislature since January because the terms of lawmakers expired before new elections could be held.

Legislative elections are scheduled for Sunday. The first round of the presidential election is Oct. 25, and Martelly cannot run for a consecutive term.

Before entering politics, Martelly was a brash performer of compas, Haiti's high-energy version of merengue music. As the self-proclaimed "bad boy of compas,'' he was known for years for crude onstage antics that included cursing rivals and mooning the audience.