The removal occurred just hours after the country’s senior prosecutor designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry as a suspect in the president’s assassination.
The political crisis in Haiti has gotten worse as Prime Minister Ariel Henry fired the main public prosecutor on Tuesday, accusing him of involvement in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.
Henry’s decision to fire prosecutor Bed-Ford was a controversial one. More than two months after Moise was shot dead by assassins who invaded his private mansion in the hills above Port-au-Prince, Claude has uncovered infighting at the top levels of what is left of Haiti’s government.
Hours after asking the judge investigating Moise’s death to prosecute the prime minister with complicity in the case, Claude was fired.
“I have the pleasure of informing you that it was decided to terminate your post,” Henry told Claude in a publicly distributed letter.
Moise appointed Henry, a political centrist and neurosurgeon, as Prime Minister just days before his death in an attempt to defuse political tensions. Henry has promised to address the country’s dismal security situation and hold long-delayed elections. Days after Moise’s assassination, he was formally appointed to the throne.
Last week, Claude revealed that phone records revealed Henry had spoken with a man suspected of being the mastermind behind Moise’s murder twice on the night of the incident.
That suspect is currently on the run, a former justice ministry official whom Henry has publicly protected.
Henry rebuffed the prosecutor’s invitation for a meeting as politicking and remained silent on the allegations.
That prompted Claude to write to the court supervising Moise’s murder inquiry on Tuesday, requesting that Henry be charged as a suspect.
He also wrote to immigration, requesting that Henry not be allowed to leave the country “due to significant presumption relevant to the president’s killing.”
Later on Tuesday, a letter from Henry to Claude dated September 13 surfaced, in which he stated that the prosecutor was being fired due to a “severe administrative error,” but did not elaborate. He named Frantz Louis Juste to the position in a separate letter dated September 14.
The order’s validity is disputed because Haiti’s 1987 constitution stipulates that the prosecutor can only be nominated or removed by the president, a position that is currently empty.
Some legal experts were alarmed by Claude’s recommendations that Henry be interrogated and charged, considering the prosecutor’s request as a threat to the judiciary’s independence.
In recent days, some in official circles have called on the prime minister to quit over the claims.
“These are grotesque and political acts,” Samuel Madistin, a lawyer for a human rights organisation, told the AFP news agency.
Decades of political instability, as well as natural catastrophes, have plagued Haiti’s development. Its aid-dependent economy is the poorest in the Americas, more than a third of Haitians face acute food insecurity, and gangs have turned swathes of the capital into no-go areas.
So far, 44 people – including 18 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent – have been arrested in connection with the inquiry into the assassination. None of the president’s security guards was injured in the attack.
“It’s an extremely convoluted state of affairs,” Michael Diebert, a journalist and author who has covered Haiti for more than 20 years, told Al Jazeera. “There’s a lot of doubt among people in Haiti about whether this investigation will be allowed to run its course. Most of the people who have been arrested so far, I don’t think anyone seriously thinks they were the money men or the real intellectual authors of this crime.”
Henry on Saturday criticised the earlier request for him to be questioned, saying: “These diversionary tactics, designed to create confusion and prevent justice from calmly running its course, will not stand.
“Those who are truly guilty, the masterminds of the odious assassination of President Jovenel Moise and those who ordered it, will be found, brought to justice and punished for their actions.”
On the same day, the prime minister announced that Haiti’s main political forces had reached an agreement to establish a transitional government until the holding of presidential elections and a referendum on whether to adopt a new constitution next year.
The agreement establishes a Council of Ministers under Henry’s leadership.
Source: AL JAZEERA