According to a Haitian official, Claude Joseph, who has been acting prime minister since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, will pass over power to a challenger backed by the international community as soon as Tuesday.
The declaration appeared to put an end to a power struggle in the Caribbean island between Joseph and Ariel Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon who had been nominated prime minister by Moise two days before the assassination but had yet to be sworn in.
Haiti foreign ministry senior official Israel Jacky Cantave said that Joseph took charge following Moise’s assassination to help ensure continuity of state but would hand over power to Henry now that there is a consensus on the future of the country and protests have calmed.
According to Cantave, Haiti’s Council of Ministers will meet on Monday, and if all goes well, Joseph will pass over authority to Henry on Tuesday in a ceremony.
Joseph could not be reached for comment by phone by Reuters.
When assailants armed with assault weapons invaded Moise’s private residence in the hills above Port-au-Prince, he was shot and killed. The assassination has thrown the poorest country in the Americas into political turmoil at a time when gang violence is on the rise, displacing thousands of people and stifling economic development.
Joseph told the Washington Post in an interview published Monday that he and Henry had met privately over the past week, and that he had agreed on Sunday to step down “for the good of the nation” and was willing to transfer power “as quickly as possible.”
Haiti, a country of about 11 million people, has struggled to achieve stability since the fall of the Duvalier dynastic dictatorship in 1986, and has grappled with a series of coups and foreign interventions.
On Saturday, the ‘Core Group’ of international ambassadors and representatives urged “the formation of a consensual and inclusive government.”
“To this end, we strongly encourage the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government,” the group said.
The Core Group is made up of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, and the European Union and special representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
The group also urged for “as soon as feasible” the holding of “free, fair, transparent, and credible parliamentary and presidential elections.”
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, US President Joe Biden appreciated news that Haitian lawmakers were exploring ways to work together in the aftermath of the assassination.
On July 9, Henry told Reuters that he did not consider Joseph to be an interim prime minister, but rather a foreign minister who had assumed the role.
“My installation should be done as soon as possible. I’m working on the formation of a government, I am consulting, and I should speed up my consultations,” he said in the interview.
A Colombian police chief said on Friday the assassination may have been ordered by a former Haitian justice ministry official, citing a preliminary investigation that has implicated Haitian Americans and former Colombian soldiers.
Martine Moise, the assassinated president’s widow, returned to Haiti on Saturday for his funeral after she was treated in a Miami hospital for injuries sustained during the attack.