Calls Come for Haitian Prime Minister to Resign Amid Alleged Link to Moïse Slaying

Haiti's ombudsman-like Office of Citizen Protection is among those calling for Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign over an alleged connection to former President Jovenel Moïse's slaying, the Associated Press reported.

Henry recently dismissed officials seeking to interview him as part of the investigation into the assassination, including the former justice minister and Port-au-Prince's chief prosecutor. The prosecutor, Bed-Ford Claude, asked to interview Henry on Tuesday about two phone conversations the prime minister allegedly had with a key suspect just hours after the killing, the AP said.

Based on the evidence, Claude had then ordered the judge in the case to charge Henry. The prosecutor was fired by Henry for an undefined "serious administrative fault," and Justice Minister Rockefeller Vincent was dismissed a day later.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ariel Henry
Calls are coming for Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign amid reports of an alleged link to former President Jovenel Moïse's assassination. Above, Henry speaks during a press conference in Port-au-Prince on August 14 after an earthquake struck the country's southwest peninsula. Reginald Louissaint Jr./AFP via Getty Images

On Thursday, Haiti's new justice minister pledged to find those responsible for high-profile killings as he spoke publicly for the first time since taking over from his predecessor.

Justice Minister Liszt Quitel said he is prioritizing the killings of Moïse, who was fatally shot July 7 at his home, and Monferrier Dorval, head of Port-au-Prince's Bar Association who was killed at his home in August of last year.

Quitel also said he aims to fight gangs and reduce lengthy pretrial detentions, with thousands of people languishing in prison for years without a single hearing.

"There is no more room for distraction or diversion, confusion and petty infighting," he said. "The task is immense."

Quitel only briefly mentioned Moïse's killing in his speech as he promised to establish coherence and harmony between Haiti's judicial and executive powers.

"We are living in difficult times with pressing needs for justice and security," he said.

Quitel is one of three new officials taking over top government positions in Haiti this week. Claude was replaced by prosecutor Frantz Louis Juste, while Renald Lubérice, who served as secretary-general for Haiti's Council of Ministers, resigned on Wednesday, saying he could not serve under Henry and accused him of obstructing justice. He was replaced by Josué Pierre Louis.

The abrupt firings and resignation have led some to question the future of the Tèt Kale party in power as the investigation into Moïse's killing continues while Haiti prepares for legislative and presidential elections scheduled for early November.

"It feels like whatever the outcome of the investigation, this is obviously a break between key figures," said Laurent Dubois, a Haiti expert and Duke University professor. "It might create cracks for other political actors to move in."

Dubois said he wonders whether those around Henry will support him or distance themselves from him in the near future, deepening Haiti's political instability as it not only tries to recover from the assassination but from an August 14 earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people.

"If they feel he's kind of going down, they don't want to be next to him when it happens," Dubois said.

Shortly after resigning, Lubérice, the former council of minister's secretary-general, helped found a political movement called "Gathering of Jovenelists for Democracy," which aims to find justice for Moïse. Among those in the group is Claude Joseph, the former prime minister who led the country after the assassination until Henry was installed.

Besides calling for Henry to step down, the Office of Citizen Protection urged the international community to stop supporting him.

However, the Core Group, composed of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the U.S., France, the European Union and representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States, issued a statement on Wednesday evening saying it supports efforts by Henry and other political leaders to form an inclusive government.

Haiti Politics
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, center, talks with former interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph after his appointment on July 20. Joseph Odelyn, File/AP Photo