Port-au-Prince Mayor Carline Simon accuses Deputy Mayor Jean-Philippe Sassine of having misused 15,000 bags of rice donated by Food for the Poor for distribution in the areas called poor neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince during the holiday season. Sassine confirmed that 15 containers of rice had been delivered to him and that rice had been distributed in four neighborhoods of the metropolitan region” of Port-au-Prince. Sassine rejects the accusation that he has misused the 15,000 bags of rice, but during a news conference yesterday, he was unable to give explanations or convincing arguments about the areas where rice has allegedly been distributed. Sassine spoke as follows: “What I can tell you is that it is true that I received the rice. It is true that I received the 15 containers from Food for the Poor. I have begun the distribution.” He added: “You must also understand that this is a strictly political matter. It is said that I am a stealer of rice and that I am in the process of selling the rice.” After mentioning that he and the other deputy mayor, Yanick Mezil, are in disagreement with Mayor Simon, Sassine explained why announcements were not made to the press about the distributions: “I did the distribution but as you know that we live in a country where insecurity prevails…. if I announce beforehand that I am going to give a container of rice somewhere, there will be too much disorder, too much hubbub. So, I did it in areas I selected after I called the people.”

Deputy Mayor Sassine and Deputy Mayor Mezil reject the accusations brought against them by Mayor Carline Simon. For her part, Simon tries to silence her adversaries. She denounces maneuvers aimed at tarnishing her image and her management at Port-au-Prince City Hall. She explains: “I must tell you this rice could be used to serve the people if they did not use an indirect way aimed at favoring fat cats in Haiti, at favoring, I could say, little bourgeois in Haiti. This rice could actually be used to serve the poor people. But they did not want to do it like that. They wanted to do it for Sassine and they did. We are telling the people that this is just the beginning of the struggle and that we must continue to fight because we have not yet reached the end of the struggle we were leading.” Simon explains that the rice given to Sassine could be used for poor people. The two deputy mayors have asked the interior minister to dismiss the municipal council that is currently leading the commune of Port-au-Prince.