Some members of Haiti’s opposition say they will not support Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry, whom President Jovenel Moise named to the position a day before he was assassinated. Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has led the country since the president was killed inside his private residence in the early hours of July 7.
On Saturday, the influential CORE group issued a statement, calling for the formation of a “consensual and inclusive government.” The CORE group is comprised of ambassadors from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, Brazil, and the representatives of the United Nations, as well as the Organization of American States.
“To this end, we encourage Prime Minister-designate Ariel Henry to pursue the mission he was charged with to form this type of government,” the statement said.
“Although Haiti faces grave danger, the members of the group express their hope that together, the political, economic and civil society actors of the country will support their officials as they work to reestablish security,” the statement added.
Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon, addressed the nation on Sunday, identifying himself as prime minister and promising to announce his Cabinet soon.
“In short order, I will announce the members of my consensual government who will occupy their posts for a brief period of time, until we hold elections to choose our next president,” Henry said. “Over the past few days, I have met with leaders from all sectors of civil society as well as politicians and members of the private sector. I intend to continue these discussions because it is the only way to unite as a Haitian family.”
In response to a question posed by VOA Creole during a Port-au-Prince press conference on Friday, Joseph denied wanting to stay in power.
“I do not have any personal ambitions. I am not a member of any particular political party. Jovenel Moise named me charge d’affaires, Jovenel Moise named me foreign minister, and it is under Jovenel Moise that I became prime minister. I have no ties to any political party,” Joseph told VOA.
It was not clear when Joseph would step down.
Opposition rejects CORE group, PM designate
Former Senator Serge Jean Louis of the Fron Nasyonal Demokrasi (FND) party rejected outright the CORE group’s statement Monday.
“I am almost sure that no one in the opposition supports this because it’s a road to nowhere. This is just another PHTK government (the party of Moise) – with the same orientation,” he told VOA.
Lawyer Caleb Jean Baptiste, who heads a legal group dedicated to defending prisoners and human rights, also rejected the CORE group statement.
“The CORE group is not Dessalines (Haitian revolutionary war hero), it is not Henry Christophe (Haitian revolutionary hero), it is not Haitian, they are interfering in our country, they are violating the OAS charter, they are violating all the agreements that we have signed and ratified, the CORE group does not have the right to do that,” Jean Baptiste told VOA.
VOA Creole reached out to both Henry and Joseph for comment but did not get a response.
Meanwhile, in Cape Haitian, preparations for Moise’s funeral on Friday are under way. VOA Creole’s reporter in the northern city saw stands being built to accommodate VIPs who will be attending the official ceremony on Friday.
VOA also visited the cemetery where the president will be laid to rest next to his father, Etienne Moise, who passed away on October 4, 2020. It was the president’s desire to be buried next to his father, his family said.
First lady Martine Moise returned to Haiti on Saturday from Miami, where she was treated for wounds sustained during the attack that resulted in her husband’s death. Dressed in black, protected by an anti-bullet vest and with her arm in a sling. She was greeted at the airport by Joseph, with whom she has been in frequent contact since the assassination.