Haiti's government installed a new prime minister on Tuesday, while officials mourned assassinated President Jovenel Moïse and arrested at least three police officers implicated in his killing.
Designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry was sworn in to replace interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who assumed leadership of Haiti with the backing of police and the military after the July 7 attack at Moïse’s private home, which also badly injured his wife and stunned the nation of more than 11 million people.
“The task that awaits us is complex and difficult,” Henry said as he called for unity and promised to meet with various sectors in upcoming days to build consensus. “I’m from a school that believes in dialogue."
He also thanked “sister nations” that he didn't identify for their solidarity and expertise in the ongoing investigation as he demanded that all those responsible be brought to justice.
Henry, a neurosurgeon and former Cabinet minister, has promised to form a provisional consensus government to lead Haiti until elections are held. He said he has already met with various unidentified actors as well as civil society and the private sector. He pledged to re-establish order and security and confidence in the government as well as fight corruption, make COVID-19 vaccines available to all, restart the economy and create a credible and transparent elections system.
Joseph, who spoke before presenting Henry, also urged unity and wished him much courage and determination while warning him: “You inherit a remarkable situation ... a political crisis without precedence... galloping insecurity, a morose and precarious socio-economic situation.”
The change in leadership comes after a group of key international diplomats called on Henry to create a “consensual and inclusive government" in a statement issued Saturday that made no reference to Joseph. The Core Group is composed of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the U.S., France and the European Union as well as representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University Of Virginia, said Joseph's departure was to be expected.
“Joseph's fate was sealed over the weekend,” he said. “Everything that happens in Haiti has a powerful foreign component.”
A main opposition coalition known as the Democratic and Popular Sector called Henry a puppet of the international community and rejected his appointment.
“This step is only a political provocation that will add fuel to the fire and push the country further into crisis,” it said.