Port-au-Prince / Washington (dpa) – After the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the US is said to have refused to send troops there for the time being.
“There are currently no plans to provide US military aid,” the New York Times quoted a senior US government official as quoted on Friday (local time). Haiti’s interim government had asked the former occupying forces to send troops to help secure sites important for infrastructure, election minister Mathias Pierre told international media. A power struggle ensued in Port-au-Prince: the Senate elected a new interim president.
However, as of January 2020, the upper house of the Haitian parliament no longer has a quorum. According to media reports on Friday, eight out of ten senators still in office voted for former Senate president Joseph Lambert as the temporary successor to head of state Moïse. Two abstained accordingly. “I express my humble gratitude to the political institutions that support me,” Lambert wrote on Twitter. He wants to pave the way for a democratic change of power. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled in Haiti in September.
Lambert’s election is seen as a challenge to interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph’s claim to power. However, it was initially unclear whether Lambert could actually take the office of interim president and appoint his own prime minister. Because a parliamentary election scheduled for October 2019 was canceled due to violent protests against Moïse, among others, there are only 10 of the 30 senators whose terms have not expired. Nobody sits in the House of Representatives, the Chamber of Deputies.
According to a joint letter, several political parties and movements in the Caribbean state, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, had agreed to have Lambert as interim head of state. The neurosurgeon Ariel Henry becomes interim prime minister and thus head of government. Moïse named him the seventh prime minister of his term on Monday.
Henry’s swearing-in ceremony was canceled after the assassination attempt. Secretary of State Joseph, who had been interim prime minister since April, announced that he would remain in office temporarily. In recent days, he has delivered speeches to the nation, signed decrees and held talks with representatives of foreign governments. In an interview with the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste, Henry said he thought he was prime minister – not Joseph.
Moise, 53, head of state was attacked and shot in his home on Wednesday night. His wife Martine was seriously injured. According to the Haitian police, 28 foreign mercenaries posing as American anti-drug agents committed the murder: 26 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent. So far, 20 suspects have been arrested and three killed. The Colombian leadership has identified 13 ex-soldiers from the South American country as suspected of being involved.
The background of the act was unclear. Some activists and politicians suspected it was a coup. According to reports from “Le Nouvelliste”, several people were asked to the prosecutor’s office to investigate the attack in the coming days – including the men responsible for the president’s security, as well as opposition politicians and two powerful businessmen allegedly in the being abroad.
Protests against Moise, who had been in office since 2017, had recently paralyzed Haiti again and again. He was accused of corruption, ties to brutal gangs and autocratic tendencies. In February, opposition parties appointed a transitional president because they believed Moïse’s term had expired. Recently, bloody clashes between gangs for control of parts of the capital have displaced thousands of people and hampered the movement of goods. The feasibility of the planned elections is therefore questionable.