Havana-On Tuesday, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry succeeded the chief prosecutor, who has been seeking to accuse him of being a suspect in the assassination of President Giovinel Moys, throwing the country into a new political crisis.
Moise was shot and killed on July 7 when the assassin attacked his private house on the hill above Port-au-Prince. After Haiti failed to hold legislative and municipal elections due to political stalemate and faced many calls to step down, the 53-year-old has passed a law to govern for more than a year.
His death plunged Haiti into a deeper constitutional and political crisis because there are only a few elected officials in the country.
Henry was a politically moderate and neurosurgeon. He was appointed prime minister by Moise a few days before his death in an attempt to ease political tensions. He tried to reach a new consensus among different political factions.
But the allegations that he might have been involved in the killing of Moise now conceal this.
Prosecutor Bedford Crowder said last week that telephone records showed that Henry had twice communicated with a man believed to be the mastermind of Moise’s murder on the night of the crime.
The suspect is a former Justice Department official who Henry publicly defended and is now at large.
Henry rejected his request to discuss the matter, calling it a political activity, and did not respond to these allegations.
This prompted Claude on Tuesday to write to the judge responsible for overseeing the investigation of the Moyce murder case and request him to accuse Henry as a suspect.
He also wrote to the Haitian immigration service agency, ordering them not to let the prime minister leave the country “because of the serious presumption related to the president’s assassination.”
Later on Tuesday, a letter from Henry to Crowder dated September 13 appeared. He stated that he was fired due to a “serious administrative error,” but did not elaborate. In another letter dated September 14, he appointed Frantz Louis Juste to the position.
It is not yet clear whether the order is really effective, because the 1987 Constitution of Haiti stipulates that prosecutors can only be appointed or dismissed by the president, and this position is still vacant.
Decades of political instability and natural disasters have plagued Haiti’s development. Its aid-dependent economy is the poorest in the Americas. More than one-third of Haitians face severe food insecurity. Gangs have turned large areas of the capital into a no-go zone.
Crowder invited Henry to meet with him on Friday to discuss the phone call with the suspect, and pointed out that he can only summon the prime minister on the order of the president, but there is no president in this country.
The Haitian Civil Protection Office asked Henry to step down and hand himself over to the justice system on Saturday.
Henry retorted on Twitter that “no distractions, invitations, summons, maneuvers, threats, or guard actions” would distract him from work.
The Prime Minister announced on Saturday that the main political forces in Haiti have reached an agreement to establish a transitional government before next year’s presidential elections and a referendum on whether to pass a new constitution.
The agreement established a council of ministers under Henry’s leadership.
The 33-member Constituent Assembly appointed by institutions and civil society organizations will have three months to prepare a new constitution.
Moise’s attempts to hold elections and a constitutional referendum have come under fire for being too partial to parties. Critics say they are trying to secretly establish a dictatorship.
His supporters say he was punished for hunting down corrupt ruling elites and trying to end undue privileges.