Haitian Senate Leader Joseph Lambert has joined calls for the embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign.
“Ariel Henry must resign because he has lost the confidence of the country and has failed to deliver results,” Lambert said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with Citizen Free Press at the senator’s home in Port-au-Prince. “We need to reestablish the authority of the state and restore security.”
Lambert said he believes a new transitional government should be installed until the next elections can be held, with him as interim president.
“This government does not represent what we need now, we need a great consensus with all sectors. No one will be able to govern Haiti without a greater consensus. That is what we have been saying and this is where I am,” he told Citizen Free Press.
The Prime Minister’s office responded that Henry will not resign.
“Our doors remain open to anyone who wants to join us so that we can have free, fair and credible elections. Our government wants to unite, not politicize,” the office said in a statement to Citizen Free Press.
Henry has been in office since a power-sharing agreement was negotiated in the weeks after President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination on July 7.
Moïse appointed Henry as prime minister, but had not yet been sworn in at the time of the president’s death. Weeks of political stalemate ensued over who would become the de facto leader of the Caribbean nation, with Lambert considered among the contenders. A US-backed deal eventually saw Henry become Prime Minister and then-Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph become Foreign Minister.
Cluster of crises in Haiti
Since then, Henry has faced a series of crises, including Haiti’s worst earthquake since 2010, the expulsion of thousands of Haitian migrants from the United States, and an increase in gang-related kidnappings, including the kidnapping of 17 missionaries from the United States. and Canada more than a week ago.
Yet perhaps most shocking has been the overwhelming fuel shortage that has paralyzed the country. The gangs, including a well-known group called G9, have practically cut off access to key fuel depots off the country’s coast, cutting off supplies across the country and paralyzing the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Gang leaders have asked Henry to step down and say they will end the fuel lockouts once he leaves.
Senator Lambert himself has long had political aspirations for Haiti’s top job. Although he is not the first to call for Prime Minister Henry’s resignation, his critics accuse the veteran Haitian politician of now seeking to take advantage of the country’s many crises for political gain.
Gang collusion rumors
Lambert has also fought to squash widespread rumors that he is working with gangs to slow the flow of fuel, although no evidence of that has been publicly presented. In the past, Haitian politicians have often had relationships with the country’s gangs, using them as political tools to get out or suppress the vote.
“It is totally false, they are only accusing opponents to hide their own incompetence,” Lambert said in response. “If they have evidence that a politician is behind the violence, they should be arrested and brought to justice.”
After Moïse’s assassination, Lambert led a failed attempt to install himself as interim president. The Haitian Senate voted to place him in office, but the body did not have a quorum, raising questions about whether it could even make the decision. Haiti has not held parliamentary elections since 2015, and only 10 senators remain seated. Less than 24 hours after the Senate vote, Lambert stepped down and said his oath had been postponed.
Lambert’s term in the Senate expires in January.
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