Haitian prime minister agrees to step down, resolving 1 post-assassination power struggle

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has been leading Haiti with the backing of the police and military since foreign mercenaries gunned down President Jovenal Moïse at his home early July 7. On Monday he said he has agreed to step down and allow Ariel Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon appointed prime minister by Moïse before his death but never sworn in, to take over.

Joseph told The Washington Post on Monday he had agreed to step down Sunday "for the good of the nation," after privately meeting with Henry over the past week. "Everyone who knows me knows that I am not interested in this battle, or in any kind of power grab," he said. "The president was a friend to me. I am just interested in seeing justice for him." Joseph said he expects power to be transferred to Henry at a ceremony Tuesday, and he anticipates staying on as foreign minister.

Haiti Elections Minister Mathias Pierre confirmed to The Associated Press that Henry will become prime minister and Joseph foreign minister, though he said "negotiations are still in course." Key foreign nations, including the U.S. and France, had initially backed Joseph but switched tack on Saturday, "strongly" encouraging "the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government."

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Henry, who isn't from Moïse's political party, had claimed the prime minister's mantle right after the assassination. He told the Post on July 10 that Joseph was his foreign minister but also in open "rebellion" and seeking to stage a "coup" against him. Some Haitian civil society leaders said both Joseph and Henry are tainted by their association with Moïse and backing by foreign powers. They encouraged new leadership chosen by the Haitian people.

Meanwhile, members of Haiti's Senate — which was effectively sidelined by Moïse's refusal to hold elections — voted to name Senate President Joseph Lambert as Haiti's acting president until new elections are held. "The international community has largely ignored that attempt," the Post notes.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.