Moise’s killing has clouded those plans and led to political disarray in Haiti, where the acting government has appealed for US and UN troops.
The United States said it has no plans to provide Haiti with military assistance for now, while the request to the United Nations would need Security Council authorisation.
Late on Friday, the man Moise appointed as prime minister just before the assassination claimed the right to lead Haiti, pitting him against acting head of state Claude Joseph, whose government has managed the response to the killing to date.
Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon who Moise named prime minister on Monday, said he was now the highest authority in Haiti, not interim Prime Minister Joseph, and that he was forming a government.
“After the president’s assassination, I became the highest, legal and regular authority because there was a decree nominating me,” he said.
Henry said his government would create a new electoral council that would determine new dates for elections to be held “as soon as possible”.
But Henry has yet to be sworn in, and Joseph, who was named interim prime minister in April, has stayed put.
The power struggle has created confusion over who is the legitimate leader of the country’s 11 million people.
Elections Minister Mathias Pierre said acting premier Joseph would keep that role until the September 26 vote.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s Senate, which currently comprises just a third of its usual 30 senators, nominated its head, Joseph Lambert, on Friday to act as the interim president.
Haiti’s 1987 constitution stipulates the head of the Supreme Court should take over as interim president. But amendments that are not unanimously recognised state that it be the prime minister, or, in the last year of a president’s mandate – as was the case with Moise – that parliament should elect a president.
Further complicating matters, the head of the Supreme Court died last month after contracting COVID-19 in one of the few countries yet to start a vaccination campaign.
There also is no sitting parliament as legislative elections scheduled for late 2019 were postponed amid political unrest.
Investigation under way
Haitian officials have not given a motive for the assassination or explained how the killers got past Moise’s security detail.
None of Moise’s guards were injured in the attack, Pierre, the elections minister, said.
Taking power in 2017, Moise’s administration was beset by mass protests, first over corruption allegations and his economic record, then over his increasing grip on power and impunity amid worsening gang violence.
Seventeen of the men suspected of involvement in his assassination were captured after a gun battle with Haitian authorities in a hillside suburb of Port-au-Prince, while three were killed and eight are still at large, police say.
Steven Benoit, a former senator, told local radio station Magik9 on Saturday, “The president was assassinated by his own guards, not by the Colombians. … The latter were hired by the Haitian state.”
Benoit could not be reached on Saturday for comment.
The sister of Duberney Capador, 40, a Colombian killed in the firefight with Haitian police, said on Saturday that the retired soldier had been offered work in security for high-profile people.
Jenny Carolina Capador said her brother messaged her on the day of Moise’s death, saying, “We got here too late; unfortunately the person we were going to guard … we couldn’t do anything.”
Colombian media reports from outlets including Semana and El Tiempo suggested the Colombian suspects were hired to work as security for politicians in Haiti, including Moise.
Semana cited conversations with other former soldiers and family members of some of the men. El Tiempo said some of the men were contracted to provide security to “several dignitaries” in Haiti for a three-month trial period.
Reuters was unable to verify those reports. Colombian police declined to specify on Saturday who hired the men, saying the matter is still under investigation. Officials have said the soldiers were hired by four companies, without naming them.
Colombian officials acknowledge soldiers are often recruited to work as mercenaries in other countries upon retirement from the army. Colombia has requested more information from Haiti about what the soldiers are suspected of participating in.
Colombian investigators on Friday flew to Port-au-Prince to help Haitian authorities with the assassination probe, said Colombia’s head of national police.