Haiti Appoints New Prime Minister

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July 21, 2021 


Haiti has appointed a new prime minister, less than two weeks after President Jovenel Moise’s assassination threw the deeply divided Caribbean nation into greater political uncertainty.

Ariel Henry was sworn in during a ceremony in the capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, the same day that official commemorations were held to honour Moise.

The country’s acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph said earlier this week that he would step down “for the good of the nation” after a key group of international diplomats on Saturday came out in support of Henry and urged him to form a new government.

A 71-year-old neurosurgeon and former cabinet minister, Henry said during the ceremony that the plans to meet with various sectors of society in the coming days to build a political consensus to address the problems Haiti faces.

“It is in the context of extreme polarisation … that we must find and implement a lasting solution to the multifaceted crisis with which we are confronted,” he said.

Moise was killed on July 7 when a group of gunmen stormed his private residence in Port-au-Prince and opened fire on him and his wife, Martine Moise, who was critically injured.

The assassination has thrust Haiti, which has experienced mounting gang violence and political instability for years, into further disarray.

Three political leaders had been vying for the Haitian leadership in the aftermath of Moise’s death, including Henry, who was chosen as prime minister by Moise just days before the president was killed.

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,” Fatton told The Associated Press. “Everything that happens in Haiti has a powerful foreign component.”

On Saturday, the Core Group called for the creation of “a consensual and inclusive government” in Haiti and said it “strongly encourages” Henry as the designated prime minister “to form such a government”.

The Core Group is composed of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the European Union and representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

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