Haiti’s government on Tuesday installed a new prime minister, while officials mourned assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moise and arrested at least three police officers implicated in his killing.
Ariel Henry was sworn in to replace interim Haitian prime minister Claude Joseph, who assumed leadership of Haiti with the backing of police and the military after the July 7 attack at Moise’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 sectors to build consensus. “I’m from a school that believes in dialogue.”
He also thanked “sister nations” that he did not 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 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 socioeconomic situation.”
After the ceremony, Henry’s new Cabinet was formally presented, with the ministers of justice, economy, finance, agriculture and others keeping their positions.
Before Henry officially became prime minister, a crowd of international dignitaries and Haitian officials clad in somber suits sat under the shade of pink and white bougainvillea in the yard of the Nation Pantheon Museum in downtown Port-au-Prince to commemorate Moise.
A large portrait of the slain president hung behind Joseph as he spoke to mourners.
“The president is dead because of his political and social convictions,” he said.
Joseph accused oligarchs and criminals of assassinating the president’s character and then the president himself.
He called on everyone to seize the moment as an opportunity to find a common purpose and durable, viable solutions.
Moise was shot multiple times, and while officials have arrested at least 26 people in the case, it remains unclear who ultimately was behind the attack.
Among the arrested are 18 former Colombian soldiers, five Haitians and three Haitian-Americans.
Haitian Police Chief Leon Charles announced four more formal arrests on Tuesday — at least three of them police officers, whose ranks he did not release.
“There was infiltration in the police,” he said. “It happened with money.”
Authorities are investigating who financed the operation, Charles said, adding that that the FBI and Interpol is helping track down US citizens living in the US whom he believes are responsible.
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