One of the primary suspects in Haitian president Moise assassination replaces Haiti's Justice Minister


Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry attends the signing ceremony of the 'Political Agreement for a peaceful and effective governance of the interim period' with the opposition, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 11, 2021. (Reuters)

On Wednesday, a new upheaval erupted in Haiti's government as Prime Minister Ariel Henry removed his justice minister. A top official resigned, claiming he couldn't serve a premier suspected of assassinating President Jovenel Moise.

According to a statement published in Haiti's official gazette, Henry replaced Justice Minister Rockfeller Vincent with Interior Minister Liszt Quitel, who will be in charge of both positions.

Renald Luberice, the secretary-general of Haiti's Council of Ministers for more than four years, resigned when new evidence emerged linking Henry to a former justice ministry official who authorities say is one of the primary suspects in Moise's assassination.

Prosecutors say phone records show the two spoke twice about 4 a.m. on July 7, just hours after Moise, 53, was gunned down by heavily armed assassins at his home.

Henry has denied any participation in the murder. Still, he has not responded directly to the phone calls, and on Tuesday, he removed Haiti's chief prosecutor, who had sought to prosecute him as a suspect and prevent him from leaving the country.

Attempts to interview him about Moise's death were dismissed last week as politicking aimed to divert his attention away from work at hand in the poorest country in the Americas, where power battles have delayed development for decades.

Luberice stated he couldn't serve someone who "does not intend to cooperate with justice, seeking, on the contrary, by all means, to obstruct it." in a letter uploaded on social media on Wednesday.

According to the gazette release, Henry replaced Luberice on Wednesday with Josue Pierre-Louis, an experienced technocrat who has held the title of government minister in his job as the General Coordinator of the Office of Management and Human Resources (OMRH) since 2017.

Assaults and disasters

So far, more than 40 persons have been held as part of the inquiry into Moise's death, including 18 Colombians. The investigation appears to have made little progress in solving the mystery and is filled with inconsistencies.

Some judicial officials hid after receiving death threats while the original judge assigned to the case recused himself.

Just days before his assassination, Moise appointed Henry, a neurosurgeon, and political moderate, to the office of Prime Minister in an attempt to calm the political tensions that had plagued his tenure and led to a significant constitutional and political crisis.

The country now has only a few elected representatives after failing to hold legislative or municipal elections two years ago due to political deadlock. Moise had established his government by decree. However, in a circumstance like the current one, there is no constitutional basis for a government.

As a result, Henry's ability to govern relies on a broad agreement. He declared over the weekend that Haiti's key political groups had reached an agreement on a transition administration that would lead to elections and a new constitutional referendum next year.

Any indication of weakness, on the other hand, might spark a new power battle.

Senate President Joseph Lambert, who attempted to claim the presidency as the most senior elected figure left days after Moise's assassination, tried again on Tuesday evening.

He requested local media to cover his inauguration at parliament, but the ceremony was halted due to a gunfight. The Senate blamed the shootings on gangs that were "hired by dark forces to thwart the Senators' work," according to a statement.

On Wednesday evening, Lambert has scheduled a press conference.

According to a Western diplomat residing in Port-au-Prince, his likely claim to power will add "another quagmire to this extra-constitutional scenario we find ourselves in,"

Publish : 2021-09-16 11:40:00

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