Haiti's acting prime minister Claude Joseph to step down amid power struggle after president's assassination

Haitian Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph speaks during a press conference at Haitian Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph's residence on July 16 in Port-au-Prince. Joseph will step down and hand power to Ariel Henry, the elections minister told CNN on July 19.

Haiti's acting prime minister Claude Joseph, who has led the country since the assassination of president Jovenel Moise earlier this month, will step down and hand power to Ariel Henry, the elections minister told CNN on Monday.

Henry was nominated to the premiership days before Moise's death, but never took office.

Joseph will retain his original role as Haiti's foreign minister, elections minister Mathias Pierre told CNN on Monday.

"Negotiations about the composition of the rest of government are still in course, there is no official announcement as of now," Pierre said.

Ariel Henry was named prime minister on July 5 by Moise before his assassination. But he was never officially sworn in and has been contesting the leadership of Joseph, who initially vowed to lead the country until the presidential and legislative elections this fall. The vote is currently scheduled for September 26.

On Saturday, a group of foreign ambassadors and special representatives based in Haiti called for prime minister designate Ariel Henry to form a new government and organize presidential elections "as quickly as possible," in a press statement published by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). The Core Group, as it is called, is one of several entities calling for specific leadership in the wake of President Moise's assassination.

A conference of civil society groups had also met over the weekend with the aim of releasing a plan to create a transitional governmental council to lead the country temporarily. They argue that Haiti, which is riven with gang violence and infrastructural issues, will not be capable of holding free and fair elections this fall.

"The best for the country is to have a prime minister for 120 days to organize elections," Pierre said. According to the elections minister, the 120 day countdown will begin once the new prime minister is sworn in.

Joseph, who was Haiti's prime minister when Henry was appointed, made clear earlier in the month that he was assuming leadership, by announcing that Haiti was being placed in a "state of siege," closing the country's borders and placing it under martial law after a meeting with government ministers.

However, Henry said at the time that "Claude Joseph is not prime minister, he is part of my government," in an interview with Haitian newspaper le Nouvelliste.


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