Haiti's New Prime Minister Unlikely to Bring Unity Amid Legitimacy Crisis and Foreign Meddling
08:21 GMT 24.07.2021 (Updated: 08:54 GMT 24.07.2021)
© AP Photo / Joseph OdelynPolice officers patrol in search for suspects in the murder Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. Moise was assassinated in an attack on his private residence early Wednesday.
© AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry will likely fail to build a political consensus because he lacks legitimacy after being tapped to lead by foreign powers, analysts have told Sputnik.
Earlier this week, Henry was formally sworn in to assume his role as Haiti's prime minister, a position he was appointed to two days before President Jovenel Moise was assassinated. Moise was assassinated earlier in July by armed gunmen that included several Colombian nationals with US military training. A total of 26 individuals have been detained in connection with the plot.
Even Moise's funeral on Friday was not safe from the instability, which was interrupted by gunfire that prompted the US delegation to quickly leave the scene.
Lack of Legitimacy and Foreign Meddling
US officials have repeatedly called for Haitian leaders to bring the country together in the wake of the assassination. On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call with Henry stressed the necessity for the unity government to reach out to political and civil society groups to achieve a broad consensus.
"We're in for a lot more instability because the government doesn't have any legitimacy", former Organisation of American States (OAS) translator Serge Bellegarde told Sputnik.
© REUTERS / RICARDO ARDUENGOHaitian police patrol the streets as protests were planned after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 12, 2021
Haitian police patrol the streets as protests were planned after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 12, 2021
© REUTERS / RICARDO ARDUENGO
OAS, Bellegarde noted, also called for a unity government from different sectors in the wake of the assassination that rocked the island nation of 11 million and produced intense infighting among a number of politicians and political groups.
"This is a red herring", Bellegarde said. "They rushed to congratulate a new government but for those who do not know, this is not a unity government. This is not a consensus government because not all political representatives are in this government".
Moise, before he was killed, was the centre of controversy and had become widely unpopular. He removed all of the country's mayors and refused to allow for a new parliament to be voted in and seated. Moise also arrested and forcibly retired Supreme Court justices and ruled by decree beginning in January 2020.
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Associate Professor Jemima Pierre told Sputnik the new government's legitimacy is thrust into further question given forces outside of Haiti worked behind the scenes to engineer who would replace the assassinated Moise. Tops amongst these being the CORE group, which is composed of representatives from the US, EU, OAS, and UN, she said.
"The Biden administration sent down a delegation and the CORE group and said Ariel Henry will be president and the State Department said a new government would be named. They decided", said Pierre, a Haitian scholar and sociocultural anthropologist. "Blinken announced that there's a unity government, the State Department had already issued a statement and civil society was ignored. This is a continuation of imperialism".
© AP Photo / Joseph OdelynPolice stand near a mural featuring Haitian President Jovenel Moise, near the leader’s residence where he was killed by gunmen in the early morning hours in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.
Police stand near a mural featuring Haitian President Jovenel Moise, near the leader’s residence where he was killed by gunmen in the early morning hours in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 7, 2021.
© AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn
Henry was appointed by a man, Moise, "who had no mandate", Pierre said. Henry, she added, is tied to USAID and the International Republican Institute. He is also a member of the Council of Sages - a US-appointed unelected group of prominent Haitian elites who supported the 2004 coup d'etat that deposed exiled Haitian President Jean Bertrand-Aristide.
Both Pierre and Bellegarde said a gathering of at least 200 representatives of civil society organisations, political parties, peasant groups, among other entities, were looking to implement a solution for Haiti but were ignored.
"Haiti is a laboratory for imperialism. They work out all their stuff there", said Pierre, who was born in Haiti and lives in the US. "They create dissension and destroy states. They destroyed Somalia as a state. This is the perfect lab for seeing how imperialists maintain power, effect regime change. This is the depth of imperialist machinations. The US has created absolute chaos. This is the moment to end Pan-European democracy".
No Easy Answers
Theories about the assassination continue to spread like brush fires in Haiti, with some doubting the official narrative of what happened.
"This was an inside job. I think people running the investigation are involved. They are using the Colombians as scapegoats", Pierre said. "Two families stood to lose contracts. I think this is infighting among the elite. I think it was a coup within the party and they thought they could get away with it. The head of the president's security force of 20 is in custody. No one was hit. It was an inside job that the US is trying to cover up".
Bellegarde said the plot has many levels and a host of suspects ranging from local police to former top officials.
"The chief of police is considered a suspect by people in the streets. He went to Cap Haitien to survey where the funeral is going to be and the residents ran him out of town. There is a lot of suspicions", said Bellegarde. "The former Foreign Minister Claude Joseph was named by a Colombian newspaper as a suspect in planning the assassination. It's a complex investigation. The FBI is helping and the main witness is Mrs Moise who is back in Haiti under very heavy guard".
© AP Photo / Joseph OdelynHaiti's designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry, center, and interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, right, pose for a group photo with other authorities in front of a portrait of late Haitian President Jovenel Moise at at the National Pantheon Museum during a memorial service in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
Haiti's designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry, center, and interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, right, pose for a group photo with other authorities in front of a portrait of late Haitian President Jovenel Moise at at the National Pantheon Museum during a memorial service in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
© AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn
The Haiti Moise presided over was a country of deep political, racial, caste, and social divisions, one often riven by political squabbling and bickering, gang violence, and widespread protests. The island nation's myriad of challenges include a moribund economy, inadequate healthcare, droughts, food shortages, and an alarmingly high level of violence.
In 2019, DePaul University Economics Professor Dr Ludovic Comeau said Haiti's capital income is $350, about half of the country's roads are unpaved, and unemployment is estimated at about 80 percent.
Yet, despite this track record, Bellegarde said the deification of Moise has begun.
"His life ended violently. There is mourning across the country even though he was so unpopular. But people around Moise are pushing to rehabilitate him, they are calling him the greatest president ever and comparing him to Dessalines", he said. "They have even suggested that his wife run for president. This is all well calculated. They are doing this to work on people's emotions even though he was so unpopular".