Haiti’s Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who has ruled the country since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, will step down to make way for a new government led by the man Moise handpicked days before his assassination, an official announced on Monday.
The new government – which is due to take power on Tuesday – will not have a president and will be responsible for organizing new elections “as soon as possible,” said the government official, close to the prime minister’s office.
Moise had called on Ariel Henry to replace Joseph as prime minister just days before the controversial Haitian president was gunned down at his home in Port-au-Prince in the early hours of July 7. Henry will now assume this position.
But within hours of the assassination, Joseph declared a “state of siege” and declared himself responsible, starting a struggle for power in the impoverished and violence-ravaged Caribbean nation. Monday’s announcement appears to end that uncertainty.
Haiti does not have a functioning parliament or viable succession process, and was already in a political and security crisis when Moise, 53, was killed.
“For several days, Claude Joseph and Ariel Henry have held a number of working meetings that will lead to the formation of an inclusive government with Ariel Henry as Prime Minister,” said the official.
“There will be no President of the Republic. The mission of this new government will be to organize legislative elections as soon as possible, ”he added.
Joseph will return to his former post as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new government.
– ‘Consensual and inclusive’ –
Moise had ruled Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, by decree after legislative elections scheduled for 2018 were delayed following multiple disputes, including over the end of his own term.
# photo1 In addition to the presidential, legislative and local elections, Haiti was due to hold a constitutional referendum in September after being postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The official did not give a timetable on Monday for the holding of new elections.
The scales seemed to have tipped in Henry’s favor over the weekend when an informal group of ambassadors known as the “Core Group” – representing Brazil, Canada, European Union, France , Germany, Spain, the UN special envoy, the United States and the representative of the Organization of American States – gave him their support.
The group called for the formation of a “consensual and inclusive government” and “strongly encouraged” Henry to “fulfill the mission entrusted to him to form such a government”.
– The first lady goes home –
Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon, previously served as Home Secretary and Minister of Labor. He was also principal assistant to the Haitian Minister of Health for five years.
# photo2Moise will be buried on Friday in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. His widow Martine, seriously injured in the attack on their home, was treated at a Miami hospital before returning home on Saturday to attend her husband’s funeral.
She had her right arm in a sling and was wearing a bulletproof vest on the tarmac at Port-au-Prince airport, where she was greeted by Joseph.
As preparations for the funeral continue, the investigation into Moses’ murder continues as well. The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation assists local police.
So far, more than 20 people, many of them retired Colombian military personnel, have been arrested in connection with the murder, but the motive remains unclear.
Haitian police have accused a 63-year-old Haitian doctor with close ties to Florida, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, of being the mastermind of the plot and of having “political objectives.”
Colombian police chief Jorge Vargas said a former Haitian justice ministry official Joseph Felix Badio ordered two of the Colombian mercenaries to kill the president. But it’s not clear whether Badio was following someone else’s orders in turn.
© 2021 AFP