Haiti’s government begins to crumble when newly indicted prime minister sacks justice minister

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Haiti’s government is beginning to collapse as Prime Minister Ariel Henry faces increased scrutiny from authorities investigating the president’s assassination, and Henry fired the justice minister on Wednesday night, just hours after another halt. An official will resign and accuse Henry of obstructing justice in a sharply worded letter.

Henry’s removal of Justice Minister Rockfeller Vincent came a day after he fired the Port-au-Prince chief prosecutor, who had linked the prime minister to a key suspect in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Meanwhile, Renald Lubérice, who served more than four years as secretary general of the Haitian Council of Ministers, said that he could not remain under the direction of someone who is under suspicion and that he “does not intend to cooperate with justice, seeking, on the contrary, of course, to obstruct it. ”

Lubérice also said he is concerned about the alleged evidence against Henry in the murder.

“May each minister rise to his mission at this historic crossroads,” he said.

A spokesman for Henry declined to comment. Vincent tweeted that the confidence Moïse showed him enabled him to serve with “dignity, competence, loyalty and a sense of public service.”

Vincent added that Haiti has an obligation to bring those responsible to justice: “It is a matter of national dignity. I count on the independence of the justice of my country to clarify this emblematic case and all the other pending cases ”.

Haiti is an obligation to render Justice à son Président crapuleusement assassiné… C’est une question de dignité nationale. Je compte sur l’indépendance de la Justice de mon pays pour faire jaillir la lumière sur ce cas emblématique et all les autres cas en souffrance. 2/2

– Rockfeller Vincent (@ RockfellerVinc1) September 16, 2021

Henry appointed Liszt Quitel as Minister of Justice and Josué Pierre Louis as Secretary General of the council. Quitel had served as Interior Minister under Henry and was once an advisor to then-Haitian President René Préval.

The appointments come less than a week after Port-au-Prince chief prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude asked Henry to meet with him Tuesday to explain why he had two phone conversations with a few key suspect hours after Moïse’s assassination on July 7 at his home. home. The suspect, Joseph Badio, was fired from the government’s anti-corruption unit in May and remains at large, according to police, who are looking for him on charges including murder.

On Tuesday, Claude ordered the judge overseeing the case to charge and investigate the prime minister based on that evidence. Hours later, a new chief prosecutor replaced Claude on the orders of Henry, who charged Claude with an indefinite “serious administrative misconduct.”

The day before Claude was fired, Vincent ordered the Haitian National Police chief to increase the prosecutor’s security, saying he had received “significant and disturbing threats” in recent days.

The events underscore that Moïse’s Tèt Kale party is fracturing, said Robert Fatton, an expert on Haitian politics at the University of Virginia.

Some politicians are siding with Henry and others are breaking away, threatening to further destabilize the country as it tries to recover from the turmoil of the assassination and a recent earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people as it prepares for the upcoming presidential and legislative elections. .

Among those who have parted ways is Senate President Joseph Lambert, a longtime Moïse ally who recently proclaimed himself interim president in a move that has only been endorsed by a number of politicians and has not been recognized by the Henry administration or by no one in the international community.

“I don’t know how long the power struggle can continue,” Fatton said. “This is all puzzling. We will have to wait to see if the situation stabilizes and if Ariel Henry wins that battle. ”

Henry, whom Moïse appointed as prime minister shortly before he was assassinated, has not spoken publicly on the issue this week, only saying over the weekend that he is focused on stabilizing Haiti and that he will not be distracted by subpoenas, maneuvers or threats. .

The Office of Citizen Protection, similar to a Haitian ombudsman, recently asked Henry to resign and asked the international community to stop supporting him.

On Wednesday night, a key group of diplomats issued a statement saying they were encouraging efforts by Henry and other political leaders to reach an agreement and form an inclusive government “to preserve national cohesion and allow the country to resume. his path to political stability. ”

The Core Group, made up of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the European Union and representatives of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, also demanded that “all the light be shed on the assassination.” by Moïse.

More than 40 suspects have been arrested in the murder, including 18 former Colombian soldiers who have accused the Haitian authorities of torturing them while in custody. The investigation has faced several setbacks, including death threats that have forced court clerks into hiding and a judge to resign after one of his assistants died in unclear circumstances.

(AP)