Haitian leaders battle for power after assassination

A power struggle is brewing in Haiti in the wake of President Jovenel Moise's assassination.

Ariel Henry, who Moise named Prime Minister just two days before his death, declared himself the nation's highest authority over the weekend, but he hadn't been sworn in by the time Moise was killed, creating confusion over who should be the legitimate leader.

Henry, a neurosurgeon by trade, told Reuters over the phone late Friday, "After the president's assassination, I became the highest, legal and regular authority because there was a decree nominating me."

Claude Joseph, who Henry was meant to replace, was named interim prime minister in April and has so far taken the reins of power in response to Moise's assassination.

He's appealed to the U.S. for support and declared a 15-day state of emergency.

Haiti's elections minister said Joseph would keep that role until elections are held in late September.

Henry, however, said he would create a new electoral council, which would determine new dates for elections.

Haiti's 1987 constitution states the head of the Supreme Court should take over as interim president, but the highest court's leader died last month, further complicating the political crisis.

Haiti's Senate, which currently comprises just a third of its usual 30 senators, nominated its head, Joseph Lambert on Friday to be interim president, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

There is also no sitting parliament to resolve the issue, as elections were postponed amid political unrest in 2019.

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