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Who is Vying for Power in Haiti After Jovenel Moise’s Assassination?

¿Quiénes se disputan el poder en Haití tras el magnicidio de Moise?

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Three politicians are vying for transitional control of Haiti’s power, following the death of President Jovenel Moise, who was shot dead in his residence on July 7.

A U.S. delegation met jointly with the three aspirants this Sunday to try to mediate between them and “reach a political agreement that will allow the country to hold free and fair elections”.

Here are some facts to know better the three aspirants to occupy the National Palace: Claude Joseph, Ariel Henry and Joseph Lambert.

Claude Joseph

Minister of Foreign Affairs since March 2020, he took the position of interim Prime Minister since April 2021, following the resignation of Joseph Jouthe, at a time when the political crisis was worsening due to the draft of the new Constitution promoted by Moise and the growing violence of armed gangs.

Last July 5, President Moise relieved him from the post of Prime Minister, appointing Ariel Henry as his replacement. As agreed, Claude Joseph would continue in the government as minister of foreign affairs.

Joseph went so far as to publicly congratulate his designated successor last Tuesday, but hours later, after the assassination, he assumed the reins of power since his successor had not been officially sworn in. He has received the express support of the United States and the United Nations.

He was a former leader of the Graphneh student organization, very active during the protests that led to the coup d’état that overthrew Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004.

Considered a member of the most hard-line wing of the Tèt Kale party, as chancellor, he had to deal with pressure from Washington over the growing authoritarian drift of the Moise government since the beginning of last year.

Ariel Henry

Prime Minister appointed by Moise last July 5, with the mission of forming a consensus government that would integrate figures from allied parties and from the moderate opposition, in order to try to calm political tensions until the elections.

He was minister of the Interior and Labor portfolios during the mandate of Michel Martelly, although he came from the Inite party (center-left) of former president René Préval.

He was part of the Council of Wise Men, a body created in 2004 with the support of the United States, after the coup d’état against Aristide, with the mission of appointing a Prime Minister.

Henry was chosen to be part of this body, whose existence had no constitutional basis, because he is a personality of recognized prestige since he is a respected neurosurgeon, one of the few there are in Haiti.

Joseph Lambert

He is the current president of the Senate, a chamber he is heading for the second time. In the midst of the power vacuum created by the death of Moise, he is trying to be sworn in as interim president of Haiti.

He has received the support of eight of the ten senators who are still active, in a chamber that is practically inactive due to the lack of quorum, and he has also received the support of minority parties and even of some sector of Tèt Kale, Moise’s party.

Lambert is a veteran politician, who for decades has politically controlled his hometown, Jacmel, the most important city on the southern coast of the country.

He is known in Haiti as “the political animal” for his negotiating skills and his ability to cohabit with parties across the political spectrum, from left to right.

In the first phase of the present legislature, he was an ally of President Moise, but in the last year he became one of his staunchest opponents.

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