Port-au-Prince, Jul 21 (VOA) – Haiti’s new prime minister, Ariel Henry, took office on Tuesday following the assassination of the president two weeks ago, vowing to improve the country’s dire security and organize long-delayed elections. weather.
Henry was installed as head of a new government in an attempt to stabilize a country on the brink of chaos since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise at his residence in the early hours of July 7.
The swearing in of Henry, who was appointed to the position by Moise days before his death, was seen as a key step toward holding elections, as demanded by many Haitians and the international community.
After the president was assassinated by armed commandos, Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph declared a ‘state of siege’ and said he was in charge, sparking a power struggle in the impoverished Caribbean nation ravaged by the violence.
“One of my priority tasks will be to assure people that we will do everything possible to restore order and security,” Henry told Haiti’s population of 10 million people on Tuesday. “This is one of the main issues that the president wanted him to address, because he understood that it was a necessary step if we were to succeed in his other concern of organizing credible, honest, transparent and inclusive elections.”
The inauguration ceremony in Port-au-Prince was preceded by solemn tributes to Moise, which included speeches, dancing and music on a stage with bouquets of white flowers and a giant portrait of the assassinated president.
Haitian authorities, with the help of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, are still investigating the murky motives for Moise’s murder.
More than 20 people, many of them retired Colombian military personnel, have been arrested in connection with the murder.
In the new government, Joseph, who agreed to resign and relinquish the post to Henry, returned to his previous post as foreign minister.
The 53-year-old Moise had ruled by decree Haiti, America’s poorest country, after legislative elections scheduled for 2018 were delayed following multiple disputes, including over when his own term ended.
In addition to presidential, legislative and local elections, Haiti was due to have a constitutional referendum in September after it was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the power struggle after Moise’s assassination, the balance tipped toward Henry as ambassadors, including some from the United States, France and the United Nations, informally gave their support to the 71-year-old neurosurgeon.
Haiti does not have a functioning parliament or a viable succession process and was already mired in a political and security crisis when Moise was assassinated.
Haitian police have accused a Haitian doctor with ties to Florida, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, of being the mastermind behind the plot and of having “political objectives”.
“All perpetrators, perpetrators and sponsors must be identified and brought to justice in Haiti,” said Henry, who previously held various ministerial positions, in his speech. And I hope that exemplary and dissuasive sentences will be delivered. The nation expects no less from its leaders. We will never have to relive such a tragedy again.
“The solution to the Haitian crisis must come from the Haitians,” he added. “Everything is negotiable, except democracy, elections and the rule of law.”
Henry also thanked international partners for the arrival of the country’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines, which arrived last week in a nation with scarce healthcare resources.
The United States, which exercises extensive influence in Haiti, welcomed the new government, and State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington was “encouraged to see Haitian political and civil actors working to form a government of unity that can stabilize the country. ‘
Moise will be buried on Friday in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. His widow, Martine Moise, who was seriously injured in the attack, was treated at a Miami hospital before returning home for the weekend.