A new prime minister will take charge of Haiti, according to an official, in a move that appears to be geared at preventing a leadership contest following the killing of President Jovenal Moise.
The country's temporary prime minister will be replaced by Ariel Henry, who was named prime minister by Moise before he was assassinated but never sworn in, according to Haiti Elections Minister Mathias Pierre.
It was unclear how swiftly Claude Joseph, who has led Haiti with the support of the police and military since Moise's assassination on July 7, would stand down.
“Negotiations are still ongoing,” Pierre added, adding that Joseph would resume his role as foreign minister. Joseph remained silent for the time being.
Henry referred to himself as prime minister and appealed for unity in an audio clip, claiming he would soon identify the members of a "provisional consensus government" to lead the country until elections are held.
“I express my gratitude to the Haitian people for their political maturity in the face of what could be described as a coup... Our Haitian brothers gave peace a chance while keeping open the possibility of the truth being restored one day,” Henry said.
“It is now up to all national leaders to walk in unison, toward the same goal, to demonstrate that they are accountable.”
The political shift came after a statement from a key group of international diplomats on Saturday that appeared to dismiss Joseph while calling for the formation of "a consensual and inclusive government."
The Core Group stated, "To this end, it strongly encourages the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government."
Ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the European Union, and officials from the United Nations and the Organization of American States make up the Core Group.
The United Nations released a statement on Monday urging Joseph, Henry, and other country stakeholders to "put differences aside and engage in constructive dialogue on ways to end the current impasse."
The United Nations also stated that Joseph and Henry had made great progress in the previous week and that it encourages talks to reach a "minimal consensus" for fair parliamentary and presidential elections.
Monique Clesca, a Haitian writer, activist, and former United Nations official, said she does not foresee any changes under Henry, who she believes would continue Moise's legacy. She warned, however, that Henry's legitimacy could be tarnished as a result of the worldwide support he received before becoming a power.
She stated, "There is not only a perception, but a reality that he has been placed there by the international community, and I believe that is his burden to bear."
“What we're asking for is for Haitians to express their dissatisfaction with the situation. We don't want the international community to tell us who should be in charge and what should be done. It is all up to us.”
The Biden administration "welcomes reports that Haitian political actors are working together to determine a path forward in the country," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.
“We have been encouraging Haitian political actors to work together and find a political path forward for several days now,” she said.
After emphasizing that Joseph was the incumbent in the role and was functioning as acting prime minister before the assassination, US State Department spokesman Ned Price stated the US will continue to engage with him.
On Monday, Price urged all political actors in Haiti, as well as civil society and the commercial sector, to work together in the people's interest, stressing that the United States stands by them.
“We have always said, and we continue to believe, that the Haitian people have the final say in who leads the country,” he said. “The country of Haiti has suffered greatly as a result of political gridlock, and it is critical that the country's leaders finally come together to chart a united, inclusive path forward.”
The Core Group announcement came hours after Moise's wife, Martine, landed in Haiti on a private jet, dressed in black and wearing a protective vest, after being discharged from a Miami hospital. She has not made any public statements since her return to Haiti, as the government prepares for her funeral on July 23 in the northern city of Cap-Haitien. Other tributes to Moise are scheduled for this week in Port-au-Prince, the capital, ahead of his funeral.
Shortly before his death, Moise appointed Henry as Prime Minister, but he had not yet been sworn in. Previously, the neurosurgeon served as Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of the Interior. He has been a member of a number of political organizations, including Inite, which was created by former President Rene Preval.
Authorities are still investigating the July 7 attack on Moise's private residence with high-powered guns, which gravely injured his wife.
Authorities believe they've apprehended more than 20 people who were directly engaged in the murder. The vast majority are former Colombian troops who, according to Colombian officials, were deceived. Three more suspects were slain, and authorities are still looking for more, including a former Haitian rebel leader and a former senator.