Haiti president returns following surgery in US

AP News
Posted: Nov 03, 2011 6:23 PM
Haiti president returns following surgery in US

Haitian President Michel Martelly returned to Haiti on Thursday after doctors in Miami performed surgery on his left shoulder.

The 50-year-old leader said the operation was to relieve pain in the shoulder that he had bothered him for more than five years because of his previous career as a musician.

Before he was elected president early this year, Martelly spent more than 20 years playing keyboard and singing under the stage name "Sweet Micky."

"Every time I lifted the left arm I had pain," he told reporters at the airport's diplomatic lounge, his arm in a sling. "I've come back strong and healthy."

He added that he also sometimes feels pain in his right shoulder, which may require surgery in the future.

Martelly left last week for the United States, saying he was going for medical treatment but without specifying the problem.

His departure coincided with anger over the jailing of a lawmaker who had been openly critical of the president. Police locked up legislator Arnel Belizaire for a night because they said he had escaped from the national prison on the chaotic day of the earthquake that shattered the capital on Jan. 12, 2010.

The detention of Belizaire, rare for a government official because investigators need to formally submit a request to lift immunity, sparked outrage among members of both houses in Parliament. The Chamber of Deputies called for the removal of two Cabinet ministers and another official who they believed followed Martelly's orders to lock up Belizaire.

Martelly and Belizaire had lashed out at each other on the grounds of the National Palace.

Martelly hadn't commented on the arrest until Thursday at the international airport, when he denied having any influence on the police action.

"Close or far away, the presidency doesn't have anything to do with the" matter, he said.

Martelly said he has asked his prime minister, Garry Conille, to set up a commission to examine what led to the arrest and to prevent something similar from happening again.