Haiti President Jovenel Moïse Assassinated in Armed Attack

Unidentified armed men shot Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse dead and wounded his wife in an attack at their home in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said the shooting occurred at 1:00 a.m. local time (05:00 GMT) and declared a state of emergency after asking for calm. He called the attack a “heinous, inhuman and barbaric act.”

Mr. Joseph claimed that the attackers were foreigners who spoke English and Spanish.

Some reports mentioned men dressed in black carrying high-powered weapons, who may have pretended to be involved in a US anti-drug operation. However, no details were provided, and the Haitian ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, denied those claims, saying he believed the attack was the work of professional mercenaries.

First lady Martine Moïse reportedly arrived by plane in Fort Lauderdale, South Florida, for treatment. But there is no official information on her condition.

Jovenel Moïse had led Haiti for the past five years after coming to power in February 2017. However, the president faced widespread protests in the capital and other cities from groups demanding his resignation from office.

Furthermore, earlier this year, he was also accused of corruption. Mr. Moïse experienced a rough and hard time in office as coups, widespread gang violence, and political instability have plagued the recent history of Haiti, considered one of the world’s poorest nations.

The country’s opposition said he should have finished his five-year term on February 7, 2021.

However, elections had been delayed a year after his predecessor, Michel Martelly, resigned, and Mr. Moïse insisted that he had one more year to serve, claiming that he had not taken office until 2017. He had been ruling by decree since disputes delayed the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 2019.

In February this year, when he was required to leave office, Mr. Moïse denounced an attempt to kill him and overthrow the government.

Addressing the nation after the attack, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said the situation was under control, vowing that the killers would be brought to justice. Furthermore, he claimed that all measures had been taken to ensure continuity and that “democracy and the republic will win.”

According to Haiti’s constitution, ministers, under the prime minister’s leadership, must take control in the event of a presidential vacancy until new elections are called.