July 29, 2021

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Haiti’s first lady returns as the mourning country faces an uncertain future

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haiti’s political future on Sunday became darker after the surprise return of first lady Martine Moïse, who was discharged from a Miami hospital where she was treated for her injuries following of an attack in which the president was assassinated.

Martine Moïse made no public statement after stepping off a private jet wearing a black suit, black flak jacket, black face mask, and black bandaged right arm as she cried for President Jovenel Moïse, who was killed on July 7 in their private house.

Some experts, like many in this country of over 11 million people, were surprised at how quickly she reappeared in Haiti and wondered if she intended to get involved in the country’s politics.

“The fact that she is back may suggest she intends to play a role,” said Laurent Dubois, a Haitian expert and professor at Duke University. “He can intervene in one way or another”.

Martine Moïse arrived hours after a prominent group of international diplomats released a statement that appeared to avoid interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, the man who currently runs the country with the support of the police and military.

Joseph’s name was never mentioned in the statement released by the Core Group, made up of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the European Union and representatives of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

The group called for the creation of “a consensual and inclusive government”, adding: “To this end, he strongly encourages Prime Minister designate Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government.”

Henry was designated prime minister the day before Jovenel Moïse was killed. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The UN, the OAS, and the US State Department offered no further explanation when contacted.

Given the current state of Haitian politics, Dubois said he believed Martine Moïse’s arrival could have an impact.

“You are obviously capable of playing a role … given the sheer scale of things,” he said, adding that the Core Group statement is surprising because it makes no reference to Joseph. “One has to ask whether the developments in the investigation have anything to do with this. It’s all these puzzle pieces that change moment by moment. At this moment it seems very difficult to understand how to put them together “.

Authorities in Haiti and Colombia say at least 18 suspects directly linked to the murder have been arrested, most of them former Colombian soldiers. At least three suspects were killed and police say they are looking for several others. Colombian officials said most of the former soldiers were duped and were unaware of the assassination plot.

Haitian police on Sunday identified another suspect in the case: Pierre Joseph Ashkard. Online records show that he is a Canadian businessman who runs a medical company in Texas with Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a Haitian doctor and pastor who local authorities recently arrested and considered a key suspect.

A day after the murder, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Joseph was in charge of the position and served as interim prime minister prior to the assassination: “We continue to work with Claude Joseph as such.” he said.

On July 11, a delegation of representatives from various US agencies traveled to Haiti to examine critical infrastructure, speak with the Haitian National Police, and meet Joseph, Henry and Haitian Senate President Joseph Lambert at a joint meeting.

The escalation of political unrest has prompted dozens of Haitians to visit the US embassy in Port-au-Prince in recent days to apply for a visa or political asylum.

“We can no longer stay in the country,” said Jim Kenneth, a 19-year-old who would like to study medicine in the United States. “We feel very insecure.”


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