Port-au-Prince (dpa) – Haiti’s Senate has elected its previous president Joseph Lambert as temporary successor to assassinated President Jovenel Moïse.
“I express my humble gratitude to the political institutions that support me,” Lambert wrote on Twitter Friday evening (local time). He wants to pave the way for a democratic change of power. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled in Haiti in September.
However, the Senate – the upper house of the Haitian parliament – no longer has a quorum since January 2020. It was therefore initially unclear whether Lambert could actually take office. 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 media reports, eight out of ten senators voted for Lambert, two abstained.
Planned swearing failed
Earlier, several political actors in the Caribbean state, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, agreed on Friday on Lambert as interim head of state. This is evident from a letter signed by representatives of various parties and movements – including the conservative PHTK, of which Moïse was a member. However, the signatures of some key forces were also missing. The neurosurgeon Ariel Henry becomes interim prime minister and thus head of government. Moïse had appointed him to the office on Monday.
Henry’s swearing-in ceremony, scheduled for Wednesday, was canceled after the assassination attempt. Foreign Minister and former interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph proclaimed himself acting interim head of government. As such, 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.
Background of the fact still unclear
Moise, 53, head of state was attacked and shot in his home on Wednesday night. His wife Martine was seriously injured. It is treated in the USA. According to the Haitian police, 28 foreign mercenaries committed the murder: 26 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent. So far, 20 suspects have been arrested and three killed. The background of the act was unclear.
Moïse, who has been in office since 2017, has been extremely unpopular. He was accused of corruption, ties to brutal gangs and autocratic tendencies. Opposition parties had already appointed a Supreme Court judge as transitional president in February because they believed Moise’s term had expired. Over the past three years, protests have paralyzed Haiti time and again. Recently, bloody fighting between gangs for control of parts of the capital has displaced thousands of people.