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Haiti's first lady to run for president in 2016 ?

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MIAMI, FL - It is often said that behind every successful man, there is always a strong and more successful woman. This adage could not be truer than when it comes to Sophia Martelly née Sophia St. Remy. President Martelly often admits, in private company, that he would not have been such a successful musician, if it were not for the guidance and support of his wife, whom friends refer to as the "power behind the throne" and enemies refer to as the "Iron Lady." Nevertheless, both friends and enemies agree on one thing: Sophia St. Remy Martelly is undeniably the "Poto Mitan" that propelled Martelly to the Haitian presidency in 2011. That achievement has not come without headaches for Martelly as his wife tries to keep her husband away from long time friends for fear that they could cause a power vacuum that could lead to a power struggle between St. Remy and the interlopers.

Just when you think things could not get any more dramatic, Sophia Martelly has firmly decided that she wants to succeed her husband. According to sources close to the First Lady, she has already formed her presidential exploratory committee a full two years before the presidential election of 2016. That decision is not very pleasing to the Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe, who has made his intentions clear that he wishes to be the heir apparent to President Martelly. Though the First Lady's political ambition had been discussed with the Prime Minister, who reportedly told the First Lady that "ou gen foli prezidan", Lamothe did not take it seriously until President Martelly convened a meeting last week to discuss his wife's candidacy. A nice mother's day gift indeed.

What the Martellys are planning to do in Haiti has been done in Latin America. In Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, presidents managed to rewrite their constitution to allow re-election, in some cases indefinitely. In other countries with stricter term limits such as Argentina, where the late President Nestor Kirchner was succeeded by his wife Cristina, or in Honduras, where former President Manuel Zalaya's wife narrowly lost an election last year. Presidents often count on their popularity to help elect their wives. This year, Panama's presidential election featured Marta Linares-Martinelli, (not to be confused with "Martelly") as a candidate for Vice-President of Panama. She is the wife of Panama's current President Ricardo Martinelli. However, presidential candidate Jose Domingo Arias with Linares-Martinelli as his running mate, finished second in the elections held this weekend. Nonetheless, it is yet another president s wife entering the political arena as her outgoing or previous president husband tries to maintain control behind the scenes.

However, unlike in other nations, the political drama could create serious issues for Haiti's unstable political system. Haiti is not an independent country capable of electing its own president free of international interference. Ms. Martelly would have to receive the blessing of the usual suspects. So far, Hillary Clinton has had several conversations with Ms. Martelly where the subject of her political ambitions came up, and polite conversations have been had.

The idea of a woman president is very appealing and should be encouraged since Haiti has never had a female elected president. Whether Ms. Martelly is the right female is another matter. However, this may become very complicated if Laurent Lamothe decided, against President Martelly's wishes, to throw his hat in the ring for the presidency. A Laurent Lamothe vs. Sophia Martelly presidential race could be dramatic indeed. Who knows what could come out? All is fair in war as in politics. Hillary Clinton for US President in 2016 - Sophia St. Remy Martelly for President of Haiti in 2016. 2016 could be the year of the women.

Emmanuel Roy
is a Freelance Writer
Follow him on twitter
@EJRManny
Photo Montage: MaxB

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