Haiti’s government on Tuesday formally appointed Ariel Henry as prime minister, nearly two weeks after President Jovenel Moise was killed, pressing the already divided Caribbean nation into greater political uncertainty.
Henry assumed the role of de-facto leader of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation in a ceremony in the capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, the same day that official commemorations were held to honour Moise.
The newly appointed PM gave his first-ever speech in the post after a minute since for the slain president.
“It’s time for unity and for stability,” Henry said.
“It is in the context of extreme polarisation … that we must find and implement a lasting solution to the multifaceted crisis with which we are confronted,” he added.
Haiti has been struggling with lawlessness fueled by violent gangs and the 71-year-old neurosurgeon and former cabinet minister said he wants to create conditions for as many people as possible to vote in elections, currently scheduled for September.
“It is in the context of extreme polarisation … that we must find and implement a lasting solution to the multifaceted crisis with which we are confronted,” he said.
Moise was killed on July 7 when a group of gunmen stormed his private residence in Port-au-Prince and his wife, Martine Moise was left critically injured.
The killing rocked an already fragile political system while focusing attention on weak security institutions beset by powerful gangs that control swathes of Haiti like feudal lords.
Foreign minister, Claude Joseph took over in the interim but was urged to quickly hand over power to an inclusive government.
Henry was tapped having been appointed by Moise but could not be sworn in before the president’s unfortunate death.