Former Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph on an electoral visit to Montreal
Claude Joseph promotes his new political party, EDE. (Archives)
Haiti's former interim prime minister Claude Joseph was in Montreal on Sunday to meet with members of the diaspora. Despite allegations that he is linked to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, the politician says he is fighting “the system” that plagues the Pearl of the Antilles and is preparing for new elections with his own party.
Outside a hotel in the metropolis, where Mr. Joseph met a team from Radio-Canada for a short interview, a few dozen people shout slogans targeting the former prime minister by interim.
Claude Joseph, assassin! Canada, accomplice!, we hear repeatedly. However, inside, on the other side of the cordon formed by officers from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), the principal concerned is all smiles.
We want to present a new political offer, with young people capable and sensitive to the development of the people, says Mr. Joseph.
He presents himself as an “anti-system” politician who fights corrupt oligarchs, but also representatives of the Haitian Tèt Kale Party, the PHTK.
It is however from this same PHTK that Jovenel Moïse came, under whom Claude Joseph was Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was even Mr. Joseph who announced, on July 7, 2021, that Mr. Moïse had been murdered during the night. He will hand over his place as head of government to Ariel Henry, 12 days later, and leave his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs in November of the same year.
Since the creation of his political platform EDE (Engaged for Development) last September, he has wanted to position himself as an alternative to traditional political parties which, he says, carry out kidnappings and indulge in political blackmail.< /p>
This system, says Claude Joseph again, controls different sectors of the national economy, which prevents the diaspora from investing, from using their ideas for the country . That's why Mr. Joseph says he travels outside the country. He was also passing through France before coming to Quebec. On every occasion, he argues, the reception of the diaspora exceeded his wildest expectations.
His time on Canadian soil, however, did not lead to meetings with local politicians.
Could Claude Joseph be a candidate for the post of Prime Minister in Haiti? I'm not interested, it's not important to me, he replies. The politician, however, does not offer such a clear answer when asked if he would like to accede to the supreme office, that of president.
Future political candidate or not, Mr. Joseph will multiply the charges against the “system” throughout his short interview. And he cares little for his detractors, who can also be found in various organizations in the diaspora. “I will not be intimidated,” says Claude Joseph, accusing his opponents of being part of the same “system”.
Yet, according to two members of the diaspora from Montreal-based organizations, Claude Joseph and his successor, Ariel Henry, are responsible for the misfortunes that have befallen Haiti for some time.
The [Haitian] community should be outraged as I am, says Frantz André, spokesperson for the organization Solidarité Québec-Haiti.
He was a minister under Jovenel Moïse, who was assassinated in July . It is believed that he may have been involved in this assassination. And for him to come here, to Canada, to teach us that change is needed in Haiti…
We should not admit to Canada Claude Joseph, who we believe is an illegitimate prime minister and who has still not been cleared of crimes, Mr. André continued. He considers his successor Ariel Henry equally illegitimate, since he was nominated by a group of nations including Canada and the United States, among others.
Frantz André believes that the creation of EDE is nothing less than an attempt to whitewash the reputation of the former prime minister by distancing himself from the party of Michel Martelly, of which he was part of it until very recently.
In any case, continues Mr. André, it is impossible to hold elections in Haiti at present, due to the catastrophic security situation. Criminal gangs control large parts of the country, including the port through which most of the fuel passes.
According to Mr. André, the way out of the crisis does not go through a new military intervention, but rather through the International Criminal Court in order to prosecute the individuals, the parties, the groups who have led the country to where it is.
For her part, Monique Clesca, of the Montana Accord Monitoring Office, has little to say about Claude Joseph, but vehemently denounces his successor Ariel Henry.
The Montana Accord, signed on August 20, 2021 by several Haitian civil parties and political formations, aimed to set up a new provisional government following the assassination of Mr. Moïse a month earlier.
Ms. Clesca explains that the supporters of the agreement believe that Haiti has become a predatory state that does not meet the rights of the population.
< p class="e-p">Since Ariel Henry became Prime Minister, the situation has worsened. There were several massacres. Mr. Henry has an absolutely disastrous record.
This is a regime that is killing us, that continues to kill us, with rapes and gang rapes, Ms Clesca added .
It's a predatory and criminal regime that dates back at least 11 years, continues the one who invites a break with the kind of state promoted by Ariel Henry.
To these ambitions, Claude Joseph replies that the signatories of the agreement are also members of the “system”.
– With information from Gabrielle Proulx