July 28, 2021

Haiti’s new prime minister officially takes office

The new Haitian prime minister officially took office on Tuesday, July 20, in a country on the verge of chaos, Ariel Henry promising to restore order in order to organize the elections demanded by the population and the international community. The 71-year-old former neurosurgeon is the seventh and last prime minister appointed by President Jovenel Moïse, who was assassinated by an armed commando on July 7.

“One of my priority tasks will be to reassure the people that we will do everything possible to restore order and security. This is one of the main issues that the President of the Republic wanted me to tackle, because he understood that it was a necessary step if we wanted to succeed in his other subject of concern, which is the organization of ‘credible, honest, transparent and inclusive elections’, said Mr. Henry.

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Solemn tribute to President Moïse

The ceremony marking the installation of his government in Port-au-Prince was preceded by a solemn tribute to President Moïse, in the form of choreographies, speeches and musical orchestra performing on a stage surrounded by bouquets of white flowers, and surmounted by a giant portrait of the assassinated Head of State.

The new government, whose composition was published Monday in the official journal of the Haitian Republic, is made up of 18 ministers, including five women. In addition to the post of Prime Minister, Ariel Henry will assume that of Minister of Social Affairs and Labor.

Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph (left) and Prime Minister designate Ariel Henry (right), during a ceremony at La Primature, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, July 20, 2021.

Claude Joseph, who was acting prime minister in the assassination of the president and later showed a desire to retain power, holds the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs.

The standoff between MM. Joseph and Henry to assume the leadership of the executive finally came to a halt over the weekend, after joint pressure exerted by ambassadors from different countries, including France and the United States, as well as by emissaries of the United States. Organization of American States (OAS) and the UN.

Read the editorial: Washington again confronted with Haitian chaos

Work towards “consensus”

Ariel Henry, who has served as minister several times, has pledged to work for « consensus » in the Caribbean country plagued by poverty, insecurity and corruption, calling for national unity to curb what he described, in another speech the day before, as “Race to the abyss”.

“The solution to the Haitian crisis must come from the Haitians”, he hammered Tuesday. “Everything is negotiable, except democracy, elections and the rule of law. “” I ask the Haitian people to continue to demonstrate their political maturity by maintaining a calm and serene climate across the country “, he also asked in this inauguration speech.

Regarding the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, whose national funeral will be celebrated on Friday, Mr. Henry said he wished “Exemplary and dissuasive penalties” for the authors, in a country where politics has often generated its share of violence.

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“Those who have returned to this barbaric practice will have to pay for their package. Yes… all the culprits, perpetrators and sponsors, must be identified and brought before Haitian justice ”, said the new prime minister.

Ariel Henry finally thanked the international community for the anti-Covid vaccines offered to the Haitian people, the first batches of which did not arrive until July 14, in a country with extremely precarious health infrastructures.

The World with AFP