Haiti’s acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph agreed to step down from his position Sunday to end a power dispute that had been ongoing since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7.
Joseph had been Moïse’s foreign minister and acting prime minister prior to Moïse’s death. Two days before the assassination, Ariel Henry was appointed to become the new prime minister by Moïse, but Joseph kept his grasp on the position since Moïse was killed, citing the fact that Henry had yet to be sworn into office.
Haiti interim prime minister Claude Joseph says he will step down amid power struggle in wake of president’s assassination https://t.co/uxc7cuOM5G
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 19, 2021
Joseph told The Washington Post that an agreement had been reached by himself and Henry in meetings during the last week. “Everyone who knows me knows that I am not interested in this battle, or in any kind of power grab,” he said. “The president was a friend to me. I am just interested in seeing justice for him.”
Henry will reportedly assume the position in a transfer of power on Tuesday, while Joseph will remain in his role as foreign minister.
After initially recognizing Joseph as the prime minister in the aftermath of the assassination, an international group of foreign ambassadors called the “Core Group” proclaimed their support for Henry as the rightful leader on Saturday, according to the Post. The U.S. is a part of the Core Group.
Haitian NGOs have rejected the legitimacy of either man as prime minister, as both were connected to Moïse, who was viewed by some as a corrupt and authoritarian leader. “We are indifferent to this news. Ariel Henry was designated prime minister by Jovenel Moïse,” said Samuel Madistin, chairman of the board of Haitian human rights group Fondation Je Klere, to the Post. “We don’t have the sense or the conviction that this will change something the failed policies of Jovenel Moïse that brought the country to the failure that we all are witnessing.”
Haiti’s senate, which lacks quorum due to a lapsed electoral schedule, also rejected the agreement by the two men. It named the senate’s president, Joseph Lambert, as the new prime minister, according to the Post. (RELATED: Haitian Police Kill Four, Arrest Two Suspected Killers Of Country’s President)
Henry has accused Joseph of trying to stage a coup and criticized the foreign minister for calling for international intervention on the day of the assassination, according to the Post. The United States has sent investigators to the country to help solve the assassination case, and several foreign nationals, including from the U.S. and Colombia, have been implicated in the plot so far.