Haiti acting prime minister says he will step down, ending power struggle


Acting Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Washington Post on Monday that he has agreed to step down and hand authority to Ariel Henry, who was tapped to be prime minister by President Jovenel Moïse days before Moïse was assassinated.

Joseph’s agreement to step down ends a power showdown over who would lead the country.

Joseph, who was serving as Moïse’s foreign minister, reportedly claimed that he was the rightful interim leader following the death of the country’s chief because Henry had not yet been sworn into his role.

On Monday, however, Joseph told the Post that he and Henry privately met throughout the past week to find a solution to the leadership debate.

Joseph said that he ultimately decided to step down from his role as interim prime minister on Sunday “for the good of the nation.”

“Everyone who knows me knows that I am not interested in this battle, or in any kind of power grab,” Joseph said. “The president was a friend to me. I am just interested in seeing justice for him.

Henry on Sunday released a recorded address that repeated his assertion that he should be prime minister.

“I give the reinsurance that light will be shed and those who carried out [the assassination] and its intellectual authors will be brought to justice,” Henry said in the address, according to the Post. “I compliment the Haitian people on their political maturity in the face of what we can call a “coup d’etat.”

Joseph’s claim to be interim prime minister was at first acknowledged by foreign governments and international bodies following Moïse’s assassination, according to the Post.

On Saturday, however, an informal group of foreign ambassadors and envoys, dubbed the “Core Group,” which includes the United States, appeared to go against Joseph’s claim, saying Haiti needed a “consensual and inclusive government” formed by “designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a briefing Monday afternoon that the White House has not received official notification of the decision by the acting prime minister to step down but she said U.S. officials “welcome reports that Haitian political leaders are working together to determine a path forward.” 

Moïse was assassinated during an attack on his private residence on July 7. An investigation is underway to determine who was behind the incident. A number of suspects have been arrested in connection with the assassination, including a group of former Colombian servicemen.

Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman confirmed in a statement last week that a small number of those individuals took part in past U.S. military training and education programs while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces.

He did not, however, say how many men received the training or what it entailed. The department’s probe into the situation is ongoing, according to Hoffman.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price earlier this month said the U.S. is responding to the Haitian national police’s request for investigative assistance.

–Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report, which was updated at 1:59 p.m.

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