Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (AP) – The president of the Dominican Republic has barred Haiti’s former interim prime minister _ who is now an aspiring presidential candidate _ from entering the country, a move that further heightens tensions between two nations that share the island of Hispaniola.

The order against Claude Joseph that was signed Wednesday by Dominican President Luis Abinader also bans 12 Haitian gang leaders from entering the country. It comes as Haiti is becoming increasingly unstable following the July 7, 2021, assassination of its president, Jovenel Moise.

Joseph welcomed Abinader’s ban on Thursday.

“He ranks me as enemy No. 1 of the Dominican racists. It is not a sanction. It’s an honor. I receive it in the name of fathers Dessalines, Toussaint and Christophe,” he tweeted, referencing Haitian revolutionary heroes.

Abinader’s order, which authorizes the president to ban anyone from entering the country if they have a criminal record or pose a threat to national security, is the latest tussle between Joseph and Dominican officials.

Joseph, who was foreign affairs minister when Moise was slain, became interim prime minister for a brief period with the backing of police and the military.

When Ariel Henry was installed as Haiti’s prime minister nearly two weeks after Moise’s killing, Joseph reverted to being minister of foreign affairs. He stepped down following an acrimonious exchange with Dominican officials following a tweet in November 2021 in which Joseph suggested that the Dominican Republic wasn’t a safe country.

Dominican officials bristled at the allegation, and ties between the two countries have since soured, especially given a spike in Haitian migrants crossing over to the Dominican Republic as they flee deepening poverty and a spike in gang related kidnappings and killings since Moise’s assassination.