WASHINGTON / PORT-AU-PRINCE – Preparations are underway for the funeral of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.
Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph said the planning was done in consultation with First Lady Martine Moise and the Moise family. An official government announcement was issued ahead of the press conference to introduce the members of the official planning committee.
“The Council of Ministers will oversee the work of the committee. The institutions and the public administration will provide all the resources necessary for the accomplishment of this mission. The government should provide committee members with everything they need while being respectful of the task at hand, ”said Joseph. .
In addition to himself, Joseph said committee members included the ministers of Defense, Culture and Communication, and the Interior; the director of cabinet (head of cabinet); the secretary general of the presidency; and the director general of MUPANAH (Museum of the Haitian National Pantheon).
The Prime Minister called on Haitian citizens to participate in the funeral ceremony and events honoring the life of Moise.
“We must bid him farewell with honor and dignity,” said Joseph.
He did not say when the funeral would take place, but said more details would be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Haiti tweeted a video message from Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the situation in Haiti and the assistance the United States is providing in the wake of the assassination. The post was published with translations in Creole and French.
“The United States is in close consultation with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of President Moise. vision and usher in a free and fair election this year, ”Blinken said in the video post.
.@SecBlinken: “Nou ekzòte dirijan politik peyi yo pou yo rasanble nan yon vizyon ki reyini plis moun, pou lapè ak sekirite epi pou yo louvri wout pou òganizasyon eleksyon lib epi jis ane sila-a.” pic.twitter.com/ptusBacjCZ
– U.S. Embassy in Haiti (@USEmbassyHaiti) July 13, 2021
Although the acting prime minister has taken charge of Haiti’s political affairs, a leadership vacuum remains. A day before his assassination, Moise appointed Ariel Henry as the country’s new prime minister. Joseph, who had been Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, was to remain Minister of Foreign Affairs.
U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement that the U.S. delegation sent to Haiti by President Joe Biden met with Joseph, Henry and Senate Speaker Joseph Lambert.
The delegation encouraged “an open and constructive dialogue to reach a political agreement that can allow the country to hold free and fair elections,” the statement said.
Lambert denounced Joseph on Twitter Monday for criticizing Henry during the meeting.
I am outraged. Prime Minister appointed #ArielHenry admits that the minister @ ClaudeJoseph03 denounced it in front of the American delegation. Serious injuries, abuse, slander and harm are on the menu. Ah! those hairless …
– Senator Joseph Lambert (@josephlambertHT) July 12, 2021
“I feel insulted. Prime Minister designate #ArielHenry admits that Minister @ ClaudeJoseph03 denounced him in front of the US delegation,” he tweeted.
Joseph has yet to respond to Lambert’s tweet.
Former Senator Steven Benoit held his own press conference on Tuesday to discuss his plan to fill the leadership void.
“I told Senator Lambert that we need to organize a national dialogue as soon as possible with representatives from all sectors of society, including the religious sector, to decide what we are going to do,” said Benoit. “The constitution has been ignored (by President Moise) since January 2020, so today we need a political agreement. And I asked Senator Lambert to meet with the different political parties, which he started to do, as well as members of civil society, to discuss the problems and find a Haitian solution. ”
Benoit said he was in favor of an 18-month transition period, ending with presidential and legislative elections in September or October 2022.
Elsewhere in the capital, a commission made up of representatives from all sectors of Haitian civil society plans to meet on Thursday to sign a political agreement that will appoint a new president.
Ted Saint Dic, one of the organizers of the next meeting, told reporters the group is planning to meet with the 10 Haitian senators whose terms have not expired.
“We will present a plan based on the discussions we have already had, which we will make public at the meeting. Regarding the proposal to appoint Senator Lambert president of the republic, we believe that before taking such a decision, there must be consultations. . That’s where we are right now, ”Saint Dic said.
He described the effort as an “effort of society” that would not be rushed.
” We are not in a hurry. We want to allow the country to find a way to engage in dialogue and agree on solutions that fundamentally address the greatest concerns of the Haitian people, ”said Saint Dic. “The people have what it takes to decide who will be their leader.”
The political leader Dieudonné Lherisson of the PLANSPA party (Platfom Nasyonal Sekte Popile Ayisyen) also held a press conference on Tuesday to call for a national dialogue.
“Everyone knows that there were (only) 11 elected officials in the country – President Moise and the 10 senators. President Moise is dead now, so there are 10 elected officials left, who were elected by the people. It is time for them to take their responsibilities and organize a national dialogue – not to mess around – but rather to find the best formula to restore order, fight against insecurity and organize elections to allow the people to choose their leader. democratic way, ”Lherisson said.
Asked by VOA whom the United States considers the leader of Haiti, the State Department and the White House declined to comment.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told VOA the administration is concerned about Haiti’s institutions and the path to elections.
“These are the institutions of Haiti. We continue to support the Haitian people and their constitution, knowing that the constitution must be a lasting framework for what will happen next, ”said Price. “And so yes, in our opinion, there must be free and fair elections. They are due to take place this year – legislative elections, presidential elections – in accordance with the Haitian constitution. And that is precisely why we have continued to support them.
Haiti’s national police on Tuesday issued three arrest warrants against people linked to Moise’s assassination. Copies of documents sent to VOA name the suspects: Joseph Felix Badio, Rodolf Jaar (aka Dodof) and John Joel Joseph. They are wanted for murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and are described as “armed and dangerous”. Police are asking the public for help in locating the individuals.
Police chief Leon Charles said police arrested 18 Colombians and three Haitians in connection with the attack, and at least five others are believed to be on the run.
Police said a Haitian with ties to the United States, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, is the mastermind behind the assassination plot. Americans of Haitian origin James Solages, 35, and Joseph G. Vincent, 55, are in police custody.
State Department spokesman Price said officials were aware Haitian Americans were in custody.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely. As in all cases, we will provide appropriate consular services to detained US citizens,” Price said. “Obviously privacy considerations prevent us from saying much more, but I suspect that once we gain access to the three detained US citizens, we will be able to confirm this.”
State Department correspondent Nike Ching and White House bureau chief Steve Herman contributed to this report.