Henry, a 71-year-old surgeon, will head a president-less government until the elections Haiti's acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph finally agreed to step down and allow the formation of a new government under Ariel Henry, who President Jovenel Moïse had appointed two days before his assassination.
For that reason, Henry had not been sworn in and Joseph handled all proceedings once the news of the President’s killing became known.
Henry is to take office Tuesday and lead the country to new presidential and parliamentarian elections “as soon as possible,” while Joseph will resume his post as Foreign Minister. There will be no “interim” president.
Moïse had chosen Henry to replace Joseph as prime minister in the days before he was shot and killed at his residence in Port-au-Prince in the early hours of July 7. But in the hours after the assassination, Joseph declared a “state of siege” and said he was in charge, sparking a power struggle.
The balance finally tipped in favor of Henry, who benefited over the weekend from the support of a group of ambassadors representing Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the European Union, as well as the Special Representative of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations
In a statement on Saturday, this “core group” called for “the formation of a consensual and inclusive government.”
“To this end, (the Group) strongly encourages Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government,” added the ambassadors.
Jovenel Moïse ruled Haiti, the poorest country in America, by decree after the 2018 legislative elections were postponed due to disputes, so the country still lacks a sitting legislature.
In addition to the presidential, parliamentary and local elections, Haiti was due to hold a constitutional referendum in September, after the consultation was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ariel Henry, a 71-year-old surgeon, is on his third ministerial experience. He was Minister of the Interior (January to September 2015), then Minister of Social Affairs and Labor (September 2015 to March 2016). He was also a member of the cabinet of the Ministry of Public Health (June 2006 to September 2008), before becoming head of government staff (September 2008 to October 2011).
Moïse’s funeral, killed at age 53 by an armed commando, will take place on Friday. Wounded in the attack, his wife Martine Moïse returned to Port-au-Prince on Saturday after being treated at a Miami hospital.
Haitian police have arrested some 20 retired Colombian servicemen who acted as mercenaries and claim to have uncovered a plot organized by a group of Haitians, including a currently wanted former senator and a medical pastor based in Florida, the southeastern United States. These men would have recruited the command thanks to a Venezuelan security company, also established in that US state.
But many gray areas remain, especially regarding possible complicity within the Haitian authorities in the attack, which would explain the apparent ease with which the command carried out its deadly mission.