The new Haitian Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, 71, took office on Tuesday (20), after nearly two weeks of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the ensuing power struggle, and in a climate of mistrust in Haiti, a Caribbean country.
At the start of his speech, Henry requested a minute’s silence in memory of the President. Shortly after, he wished a good recovery to the wife of Moïse, Martine, slaughtered at the time, and defended exemplary and dissuasive sanctions for the perpetrators of a “barbaric practice” and who must “pay for the crime. “.
The new Prime Minister underlined the moment of unprecedented crisis in the country and declared that “we must never again experience such a tragedy”. He felt that Moise appointed him not because he considered him “a superhuman man, capable of working miracles”, but a “democrat and a man of dialogue”. “It is with great humility, without pretension, but with great determination that I accepted this mission.”
On the solution discussed for the country, Henry defended that it should be done by Haitians and for all Haitians, without exception, but he acknowledged that it was a multi-faceted crisis. On the issue of security, he promised more resources for the police and the army.
On the pandemic, he quickly explained that the goal was to have a vaccine accessible to everyone and thanked the international community for help – the United States donated 500,000 doses through the Covax Facility consortium. , of the World Health Organization.
And on the central issue of the moment, the political crisis, Henry addressed the need for dialogue. “[É preciso] An agreement between competitors, because the endless argument leads nowhere, ”he said. “Your interests and those of your country call for a compromise, a paradigm shift.”
Vaguely, the new Prime Minister approached the holding of elections which include the greatest possible part of Haitians able to vote. “Our electoral system will be credible, honest and transparent and will ensure that no one is favored.” At the end of his speech, Henry thanked the new ministers for agreeing to be part of a “consensual and inclusive government”.
In his exit speech, Claude Joseph used words like courage and patriotism to talk about his performance over the past two weeks and thanked his government and the Haitian police for their work in times of crisis.
The now former Prime Minister defended a political agreement and a broad and sincere dialogue to establish a “climate of political appeasement”. He also demanded that the investigation into the murder of “my friend” Moses be carried out.
Neurosurgeon and former Home and Social Affairs Minister (2015-16), Henry was appointed by Moïse to take the post – the seventh in his term. On the day he was supposed to take office, however, the president was assassinated and the incumbent at the time, Claude Joseph, remained in the post on an interim basis.
With the arrival of Henri, however, Joseph did not completely leave the circle of power. Among the 18 ministers announced, he remains in charge of the Foreign Affairs and Worship portfolio. This so-called continuity – not least because the two were nominated by Moses – displeased the opposition, and the inauguration of the new prime minister will not mean appeasement in the bitter political crisis, which arose even before the death of the president.
Despite the promises of the new prime minister, the opposition is suspicious and believes that its choices for the government do not reflect a spirit of consensus, which must be sealed in a political agreement.
The spokesperson for the opposition Popular and National Democratic Sector, André Michel had declared, even before the investiture, that Henry had no legal and constitutional provision to set up a government, according to the Haitian newspaper AlterPresse . “The international community is on the wrong track. It takes a great consensus, coupled with a political agreement, to break the current impasse.
Within Haitian civil society, the exchange of power is not welcome either. Economist Emmnauella Doyoun, of the Nou pap dòm collective, considers the new team a “bad joke”, according to AlterPresse. “The gravediggers of the Republic are already ready to follow his work. You have to really hate Haiti to support this dirty procedure, ”he wrote on his Twitter. The organization is part of a Haitian civil society commission that is seeking a solution to the crisis in the country.
Haiti was already facing difficulties even before Moise’s death, but his assassination exacerbated the political crisis, which had at the center of the dispute a discussion on the end of the presidential term. Moise was elected in 2015 and should have taken office on February 7, 2016 for a five-year term. Amid accusations of fraud, however, the election was called off and had to be redone the following year. During this period, the country was ruled by an interim government.
He won the new vote and took command of Haiti on February 7, 2017. As the country’s presidential term is five years, he said he should stay in office until February 2022, so – a claim supported by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United States. The opposition, however, argued that his term should have ended in February of this year.
In the middle of this discussion, the president then suspended the midterm elections, leaving vacant two-thirds of the Senate, the entire Chamber of Deputies and all the mayors. Thus, Moses began to rule the country through decrees – which led to a wave of protests against the government and accusations of authoritarianism.
After the crime, Joseph took command of the country and declared a state of siege for two weeks, a move that expanded the powers of the executive. At first, he had the support of the UN and the United States to take charge of the country, but on Saturday (17) the Core Group, which brings together foreign ambassadors, changed their position and defended the formation of ‘a consensual and inclusive government, without Joseph in the front.
“We strongly encourage Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry to continue his mission of forming a government,” the group said in a statement on Saturday. The Core Group brings together ambassadors and other representatives from Brazil, Germany, Canada, Spain, United States, European Union, UN and OAS (Organization of American States ).
This reinforced Henri’s plea, which advocated Joseph’s resignation. On Monday, he told the Washington Post he met with Henry last week to resolve the dispute and agreed to step down “for the good of the nation.” “Everyone who knows me knows that I am not interested in this battle or in any kind of power struggle,” the prime minister told the American newspaper. “The president was my friend. I am interested in seeing justice.”
The US government has welcomed the deal. “It is encouraging to see Haitian political and civilian actors working to form a unity government that can stabilize the country and lay the groundwork for free and fair elections,” State Department spokesman Ned said. Price.
In addition to playing a leading role in the political crisis, Joseph is under investigation as one of the possible perpetrators of Moses’ assassination, according to information released last week by the Colombian press – more of 20 suspects of the crime are former soldiers of the country of South America. The idea would be to arrest Moses, the target of contestation for the authoritarian way in which he ruled, but, according to inquiries, the prime minister has changed his mind and decided to have him killed.
Haitian police, until the change of power under the Joseph government, denied that the former prime minister was under investigation.
Jovenel Moïse was killed at his home in the early morning of the 7th. His wife, Martine Moïse, was seriously injured and was taken to Miami for treatment. She returned to Haiti on Saturday (17).
The Moïse government was marked by instability, with violent protests, mainly after a rise in fuel prices in 2018. After his assassination, the country fell back into chaos, with armed gangs in the streets, a lack of gasoline at stations and risks of food shortage. .
So far, there is no conclusion as to who was the mastermind of the murder or the reason for the crime. According to the Haitian government, the president was killed by a group of mercenaries, which included retired Colombian soldiers. More than 20 people have been arrested in connection with the case.
Haitian police accused Dr Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, of being the mastermind of the crime and arrested him. He lives in Florida, but is said to have traveled to Haiti with the intention of taking control of the country.
Colombian police chief Jorge Vargas said a former Haitian justice ministry official Joseph Felix Badio ordered two Colombian mercenaries to kill the president. But it’s unclear whether Badio, in turn, was following someone else’s orders.
Some of the suspected mercenaries testified that they were tasked with arresting Moses and taking him to the presidential palace, but upon arrival they found him dead.
Former employee of an anti-corruption unit at the Ministry of Justice, Badio is one of many wanted by the Haitian police, along with former opposition senator Joël John Joseph, accused of having supplied weapons for the crime. Both are described as “armed and dangerous”.