After declaring a battle against those responsible for the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti is heading towards a new crisis, this time around the name which should succeed the authoritarian leader killed on Wednesday (7).
Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph was, in fact, the representative of the State. It was he who announced Moise’s death, published reports on the state of health of First Lady Martine, appealed to the international community and the United Nations Security Council and affirmed that he was in charge. from the country.
Joseph was appointed prime minister in April, becoming the sixth to hold the post under Moise’s leadership. Two days before his assassination, however, the president made another appointment: neurologist Ariel Henry was due to replace Joseph and become the new prime minister on Wednesday.
The attack on the president and the first lady, however, has become a priority in public debate, so Henry has not been formalized in office. But the absence of an official inauguration ceremony did not prevent him from considering himself as the new prime minister.
“In my opinion it [Joseph] he is no longer the prime minister. Are there multiple prime ministers appointed in the country? “Asked Henry, in an interview published this Thursday (8) by the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. “I don’t want to add fuel to the fire. We must avoid inflaming the country as much as possible. “
For him, Joseph did, in general, a good job given the crisis caused by the death of Moses, but he was wrong at times, such as decreeing a state of siege, a measure which for two weeks, gives even more powers to the Executive in the country in that the Legislature saw its functions practically canceled by the assassinated president.
In Henry’s opinion, Joseph should therefore resume his duties as Minister of Foreign Affairs. “If there had been no need for another government, I do not think that President Jovenel Moïse would have come to seek me”, declared the aspiring Prime Minister, adding that the negotiations for the formation of his cabinet were well advanced.
When asked when the current political conditions in the country would allow him to take office, Henry replied: “There was a schedule planned with President Jovenel Moïse. But he died. I think we have to reach a consensus with all the players. , no, I am the only one responsible. “
For Jean Wilner Morin, president of the National Association of Haitian judges, Joseph, in fact, does not meet the requirements of the Constitution to remain formally at the head of the country. The main one would be to obtain, by a vote, the approval of Parliament.
In this sense, the prior action of Moses is responsible for preventing the approval given by the Legislature. Last year he suspended two-thirds of the Senate, the entire Chamber of Deputies and all mayors – and ruled by decree ever since. Without the active Parliament, therefore, the current Prime Minister does not find support in Haitian law to occupy the presidency.
Henry, according to the interview with Le Nouvelliste, is betting on dialogue with the political class of the country, including the ten senators still in office. In addition, he said he was in contact with actors of the international community, without however specifying to whom he was referring.
Faced with the impasse, the president of the Supreme Court of the country would be the name to fill the void left by Moïse, but the last holder of the post, René Sylvestre, died last month, victim of Covid-19.
Haiti was already in a political crisis and a dispute over narratives before the attack on the president. On the one hand, the opposition argued that the presidential term ended in February this year, five years after the date Moses should have taken office, in February 2016, if the 2015 election did not. had not been canceled on charges of fraud.
On the other hand, the Haitian leader argued that his term would not end until 2022, as he only took office in 2017, after a year of interim government of which he was not a part – a position defended by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United States.
The opposition’s plan to change the country’s leadership forced members of civil society and political leaders to choose a new president from among the Supreme Court justices, rather than wait for the general elections scheduled for September.
But this strategy has led to the arrest of more than 20 people, including a judge at the highest level of Haitian justice and one of the inspectors general of the police, on charges of involvement in an attempted coup. State and conspiracy to assassinate Moses. .