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Haiti’s interim prime minister to step down, official says

Claude Joseph has been leading Haiti with the backing of police and the military since the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Prime Minister Claude Joseph speaks during a news conference at his home July 8.
Prime Minister Claude Joseph speaks during a news conference at his home July 8. [ RICHARD PIERRIN | Getty Images South America ]
Published Jul. 19

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry will replace the country’s interim prime minister to honor the wishes of the country’s slain president, an official told The Associated Press on Monday.

It wasn’t immediately clear how quickly interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who has been leading Haiti with the backing of police and the military since the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, would step down.

“Negotiations are still in course,” Haiti Elections Minister Mathias Pierre said, adding that Joseph would go back to being minister of foreign affairs.

Joseph could not be immediately reached for comment, and Henry did not return a message for comment.

The change follows a statement Saturday from a key group of international diplomats that appeared to snub Joseph as it called for the creation of “a consensual and inclusive government.”

“To this end, it strongly encourages the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government,” the statement from the Core Group said.

The Core Group is composed of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the U.S., France, the European Union and representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Monique Clesca, a Haitian writer, activist and former U.N. official, said she doesn’t anticipate any changes under Henry, whom she expects to carry on Moïse’s legacy. But she warned Henry might be viewed as tainted because of the Core Group’'s involvement.

“If he accepts this, there is not only a perception, but the reality that he has been put there by the international community, and I think that’s his burden to carry,” she said.

“What we’re calling for is for Haitians to really say this is unacceptable. We do not want the international community stating who ought to be in power and what ought to be done. It is up to us.”

The Core Group statement was issued hours after Moïse’s wife, Martine, arrived in Haiti on Saturday aboard a private jet clad in black and wearing a bulletproof vest. She has not issued a statement or spoken publicly as the government prepares for the July 23 funeral that will be held in the northern city of Port-au-Prince.

Moïse designated Henry as prime minister a day before he was killed, but he had not been sworn in.

- Danica Coto