Haiti’s outgoing president has released a brash pop song jeering at his critics and aiming sexually suggestive lyrics at his main target, an award-winning female journalist.
In an unusual move by a sitting leader, President Michel Martelly released a track called “Bal Bannann Nan” –Haitian Creole for “Give Them the Banana” during what is likely his last week in office.
The song is credited to Sweet Micky, the name he used as a pop star before being elected.
Martelly and backing vocalists repeatedly sing suggestive lyrics while referring to bananas and well-known radio reporter and human rights advocate Liliane Pierre-Paul.
Martelly’s song was the talk of social media and Haiti’s radio phone-in shows. While some dismissed it as a simple piece of light entertainment that harkens back to the president’s days as the self- proclaimed “bad boy” of Haitian pop music, others were repelled.
“I want to vomit when I see other women applauding Martelly’s carnival song denigrating another woman, our most famous human rights activist,” tweeted Chantal Elie, a political analyst who worked in Martelly’s administration before quitting.
Others questioned Martelly’s judgment in releasing such a song while Haiti grapples with a political crisis trying to pick his successor.
A run-off election has been indefinitely postponed and Martelly is required by the constitution to leave office on Sunday, raising fears that Haiti could slide back into instability amid the leadership vacuum.
“This is the end of your term and this is the way you’re acting?” Pierre-Paul said on Radio Kiskeya.
Pierre-Paul, who was tortured during Jean-Claude Duvalier’s dictatorship and went into hiding after a military coup that toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is an outspoken advocate of free speech and democracy. In recent years, she has been a prominent critic of Martelly.
Martelly’s song, which also accuses a male journalist of using skin lightening cream in hopes of becoming a “pretty girl,” has been listened to more than 117,000 times since Sunday on a website where new Haitian Carnival songs are featured. It was released as Port-au-Prince prepares to celebrate the annual festival next week. Martelly hopes to perform on a Carnival float on the day he leaves office.