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Haiti official resigns over PM’s links to suspect in president’s slaying By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Ariel Henry (Haiti’s Prime Minister) attends the signing of the “Political Agreement” for peaceful and effective administration of the interim period with the opposition in Port-au-Prince. September 11, 2021.REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Ero

By Sarah Marsh

HAVANA (Reuters) – Fresh turmoil hit Haiti’s government on Wednesday as a senior official stepped down saying he could not serve a premier under suspicion in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise and refusing to cooperate in the investigation.

The resignation of Renald Luberice, who served more than four years as secretary general of Haiti’s Council of Ministers, came after new evidence emerged linking Prime Minister Ariel Henry to the former justice ministry official suspected to be the mastermind behind Moise’s killing.

Prosecutors say phone records show the two spoke twice around 4 a.m. on July 7, just hours after Moise, 53, was shot dead when heavily-armed assassins stormed his private residence.

Henry has denied any involvement in the murder but he has not directly addressed the phone calls and on Tuesday he replaced Haiti’s chief prosecutor who had been seeking to charge him as a suspect and ban him from leaving the country.

Last week, the premier dismissed all attempts at interviewing him about Moise’s murder as political politicking to distract from his work in Haiti, the most poor country in Americas. Power struggles for many decades have impeded development.

In a letter shared on social media on Wednesday, Luberice said he cannot serve someone who “does not intend to cooperate with justice, seeking, on the contrary, by all means, to obstruct it.”

More than 40 people including 18 Colombians have been detained so far as part of the investigation into Moise’s killing yet it has so far done little to solve the mystery and been riddled with irregularities.

Many judicial officials fled the country after receiving death threats. The original judge in charge of the case resigned.

Moise named Henry a neurosurgeon who is also a political moderate to the post of prime minister. He did this to ease the political tensions, which had plagued him and caused a serious constitutional and political crisis.

Only a handful have been elected to office in this country after it failed two years back to hold local or national elections. Moise had been ruled through decree. In a case like this, there’s no constitution that would allow for government.

Henry must have broad support to be able to govern. He announced a deal between Haiti’s major political parties on a transitional government that would lead to next year’s elections and a new constitution referendum.

Any sign of weakness can lead to another power struggle.

Joseph Lambert (Senate President) attempted to win the presidency after Moise was killed.

He attempted to call local media for coverage of his swearing in before a gunfight broke up the proceedings. On Wednesday, he called for a press conference.

According to a diplomat from the West based out of Port-au-Prince his possible claim to power will “will be another quagmire in this extra-constitutional setting we find ourselves in,” he said.

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