DPM Wants Harajchi Out
Stressing that it was not her intention to speak behind the prime minister on the matter, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Cynthia Pratt said Sunday she would fully support any effort to revoke the permanent residency of Mohammed Harajchi.
The Iranian businessman started a firestorm last week when he personally attacked members of the Cabinet during a press conference at his Paradise Island home.
“I would support [the revocation of the permanent residency of] any person, anyone who attacks a government in the manner in which he is doing,” said Minister Pratt, who responded to a Bahama Journal question on the matter.
“I do not see him as an asset to the country. That’s not just [during the tenure of] this government. He was attacking the former government. Any foreigner who comes into this country ought to have respect for the country.”
Minister Pratt said she is in full support of the prime minister’s comments on the matter late last week and did not want to appear out of step with the nation’s leader.
But she agreed to respond to questions on the issue.
“The government has to make a decision on this,” said Minister Pratt, shortly after returning from vacation in North Carolina.
“The government has to do what it has to do. The government must also show it is in control of this county. [Mr. Harajchi’s] intention is to destroy this government because he didn’t get his license (for Suisse Security Bank which was revoked three years ago). That is the gist of the whole thing. I am so disappointed that I have to feel this way because I held him in high esteem.”
Asked how she would respond to persons who may not support the revocation of Mr. Harajchi’s permanent residency, the deputy prime minister said, “I can’t worry about persons who would say it’s victimization.
“There are also persons who would say it is time for the government to do something about it. It would show a sign of weakness if the government is afraid to address a problem. You cannot attack a government in the manner in which he has done. No foreigner is going to try to degrade me to my own people. These are my people. They know me.”
Asked whether the government will address the issue of Mr. Harajchi’s permanent residency directly, Minister Pratt said, “Certainly I expect it to.”
But she made it clear that it is an issue the government would have to deal with as a whole and she stressed that she did not want her personal views to interfere with whatever decisions Prime Minister Perry Christie and his government make on the matter.
The deputy prime minister said she believes that Mr. Harajchi is unsuitable to be a permanent resident of the Bahamas.
“Anytime you are going to get to the place where you’re going to go out there and try to discredit the government of the day, you don’t deserve to have permanent residence,” she added.
Her reaction was prompted by claims made by Mr. Harajchi last Wednesday that he gave her money to put security bars on her constituency windows.
It was a claim Minister Pratt vehemently denied.
“I don’t know what Mr. Harajchi’s problem is, but all I have to say is a lie can be proven. The truth will always be the truth. Nobody in this country has ever questioned my integrity. Never,” Minister Pratt said in her initial response on the matter Thursday evening.
“Obviously it seems that he is on a mission to try to smear the leaders of the government. That is clear to me and so being a part of the government, he is trying to get the people of this country to discredit me, but let me tell you, he is barking up the wrong tree. God forbid. My Bible tells me that a lying tongue shall be stopped.”
The deputy prime minister added that this is not the first time Mr. Harajchi has attempted to destroy her good name.
“His paper (the Confidential Source) has told lies upon lies against me,” she said, “for absolutely nothing.”
Minister Pratt joined a growing number of people who believe that Mr. Harajchi’s permanent residency should be revoked.
Last week, Chief Executive Officer of Jones Communications Wendall Jones also made his feelings on the matter public after Mr. Harajchi launched a personal attack on him, claiming that he financially supported Mr. Jones in setting up his company.
“He is an unfit person to be a permanent resident of the Bahamas and as far as I am concerned anybody who is prepared to go to the lengths that he is going to destroy the good name and reputation of officials of the Government of the Bahamas should have his permanent residency revoked,” Mr. Jones said.
While the idea is said to have growing support in the government, one inside government source told the Journal that it is unlikely. The source noted that the right way to address any potential defamatory statements is before the courts.