Sat | Jul 24, 2021

Key diplomats appear to snub Haiti’s acting leader

Published:Saturday | July 17, 2021 | 2:17 PM
Haiti's interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph gives a press conference in Port-au-Prince, Friday, July 16, 2021, the week after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s on July 7. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A key group of international diplomats on Saturday appeared to snub the man currently running Haiti by urging another politician, the designated prime minister, to form a government following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has been leading Haiti with the backing of police and the military despite the fact that Moïse had announced his replacement a day before the president was killed.

Joseph and his allies argue that the designated successor, Ariel Henry, was never sworn in, though he pledged to work with him and with Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti's inactive Senate.

The statement was issued by the Core Group, which is composed of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the U.S., France, the European Union and representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

The group called for the creation of “a consensual and inclusive government.”

“To this end, it strongly encourages the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government,” the group said.

U.S. officials could not be immediately reached for comment. A U.N. spokesman declined comment except to say that the U.N. is part of the group that issued the statement. Meanwhile, an OAS spokesman only said the following: “For the moment, there is nothing further to say other than what the statement says.”

Henry and spokespeople for Joseph did not immediately return messages for comment.

The group also asked that “all political, economic and civil society actors in the country fully support authorities in their efforts to restore security.”

Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, said the statement is very confusing especially after the U.N. representative had said that Joseph was in charge.

“More confusion in a very confusing and bewildering situation,” he said.

Moïse was killed on July 7 by gunmen who raided his private home in an attack that authorities say involved Haitians, Haitian-Americans and former Colombian soldiers.

The question of who should take over has been complicated by the fact Haiti's parliament has not been functioning because a lack of elections meant most members' terms had expired. And the head of the Supreme Court recently died of Covid-19.

A day after the assassination, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price noted that Joseph was the incumbent in the position and was serving as acting prime minister before the assassination: “We continue to work with Claude Joseph as such,” he said.

On July 11, a delegation of representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and National Security Council travelled to Haiti. They reviewed critical infrastructure, talked with Haitian National Police and met with Joseph, Henry and Lambert in a joint meeting.

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