Key diplomats, including from Canada, support Haiti's designated PM, snub interim leader

A group of key countries, including Canada, issued a statement supporting Haiti's designated prime minister, Ariel Henry, following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Statement from Core Group does not mention interim PM Claude Joseph

Claude Joseph, Haiti's interim prime minister, speaks in Port-au-Prince on July 8, the day after the country's president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated. (Estailove St-Val/Reuters)

A key group of international diplomats on Saturday appeared to snub the man currently running Haiti by urging another politician, the designated prime minister, to form a government following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has been leading Haiti with the backing of police and the military, despite the fact that Moïse had announced his replacement a day before being assassinated.

Joseph and his allies argue that the designated successor, Ariel Henry, was never sworn in, but he pledged to work with him and Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti's inactive Senate.

A statement was issued by the Core Group, which comprises ambassadors to Haiti from Canada, Germany, Brazil, Spain, the United States, France and the European Union, as well as representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

The group called for the creation of "a consensual and inclusive government."

"To this end, it strongly encourages the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government," the group said.

It also asked that "all political, economic and civil society actors in the country fully support authorities in their efforts to restore security."

U.S. officials could not be immediately reached for comment. A UN spokesperson declined comment except to say that the organization is part of the group that issued the statement, while an OAS spokesperson said the following: "For the moment, there is nothing further to say other than what the statement says."

Henry and spokespeople for Joseph did not immediately return messages for comment.

A Haitian soldier guards the entrance to the General Directorate of the police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, on July 10. (Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters)

Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, said the statement is very confusing, especially after the UN representative had said that Joseph was in charge.

"More confusion in a very confusing and bewildering situation," he said.

Moïse was killed on July 7 by gunmen who raided his private home in an attack that authorities say involved Haitians, Haitian-Americans and former Colombian soldiers.

The question of who should take over has been complicated by the fact that Haiti's parliament hasn't been functioning because elections haven't been held and most members' terms had expired. And the head of the Supreme Court recently died of COVID-19.

Global Affairs statement

A day after the assassination, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price noted that Joseph was the incumbent in the position and was serving as acting prime minister before the assassination. "We continue to work with Claude Joseph as such," he said.

On July 11, a delegation of representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, State Department and National Security Council travelled to Haiti. They reviewed critical infrastructure, spoke with Haitian National Police and met with Joseph, Henry and Lambert in a joint meeting.

In a statement, Global Affairs said Canada is engaging with the interim government as well as prime minister-designate Ariel Henry and other actors "to ensure peace and stability and encourage an inclusive dialogue with all political parties and all sectors of society."

"Canada has a deep and long-standing commitment to Haiti, and we want to continue to strengthen our efforts to improve the lives of the Haitian people," the statement said.

With files from CBC News