PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti will usher in a new prime minister on Tuesday as Ariel Henry takes the reins of the Caribbean country nearly two weeks after President Jovenel Moise’s was gunned down in a murder plot that likely extends far beyond its borders.
Official memorial services for the slain Moise were to begin on Tuesday as the impoverished nation struggling with lawlessness fueled by violent gangs eagerly awaits findings of the investigation into the assassination.
Moise was killed on July 7 in the middle of the night at his private residence in Port-au-Prince by a group of more than 20 mostly Colombian mercenaries. The leader’s own security chief, some Haitian police officers and a couple of Haitian-Americans have been taken into custody on suspicion of involvement in the conspiracy to murder the president.
Moise’s killing has rocked an already fragile political system while focusing attention on weak security institutions beset by powerful gangs that control swathes of Haiti like feudal lords.
Elections have not been held in Haiti since 2016, but are currently set for September.
Henry, a 71-year-old neurosurgeon, was tapped by Moise to be the new prime minister just days before he was assassinated. But he was not then formally sworn in to the position.
Claude Joseph, the former prime minister, clung to the job in the immediate aftermath of the assassination despite sharp criticism from domestic political opponents who accused him of pursuing a reckless power grab.
Joseph has returned to his previous job as foreign minister, just as several other ministers are expected to keep their old portfolios for now.
Moise’s wife Marine Moise, who was also shot during the assassination, arrived back in Haiti over the weekend after being treated for her wounds at a hospital in Miami.
(Reporting by Andre Paultre and Dave Graham; Writing by David Alire Garcia; editing by Grant McCool)