Haiti Installs New Leader as Country Mourns Slain President

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s government installed a new prime minister on Tuesday, while officials mourned assassinated President Jovenel Moïse and arrested at least three police officers implicated in his killing.

Designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry was sworn in to replace interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who assumed leadership of Haiti with the backing of police and the military after the July 7 attack at Moïse’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 various sectors in upcoming days to build consensus. “I’m from a school that believes in dialogue.”

He also thanked “sister nations” that he didn’t 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 various 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 socio-economic 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 Moïse, whose assassination left a political void.

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.

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