Haiti President Assassinated today
His wife was wounded too
Haiti President Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his home early Wednesday morning by a group of armed individuals, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph announced.
Joseph said he was now in charge of the country.
Moise’s injured wife was in the hospital, according to Joseph, who urged the public to remain calm, and insisted the police and army would ensure the population’s safety.
“The president was assassinated at his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish,” Joseph said.
Moise had been ruling Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, by decree, after legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed in the wake of disputes, including on when his own term ends.
In addition to the political crisis, kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months, further reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs in the Caribbean nation.
Haiti’s situation has not been good
Haiti also faces chronic poverty and recurrent natural disasters.
The president faced steep opposition from swathes of the population that deemed his mandate illegitimate, and he churned through a series of seven prime ministers in four years. Most recently, Joseph was supposed to be replaced this week after only three months in the post.
In addition to presidential, legislative, and local elections, Haiti was due to have a constitutional referendum in September after it was twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Supported by Moise, the text of the constitutional reform, aimed at strengthening the executive branch, has been overwhelmingly rejected by the opposition and many civil society organizations.
The constitution currently in force was written in 1987 after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship and declares that “any popular consultation aimed at modifying the Constitution by referendum is formally prohibited.”
Critics had also claimed it was impossible to organizing a poll, given the general insecurity in the country.
State of siege in place
Haiti’s prime minister on Wednesday declared a “state of siege”, which grants the executive additional powers, just hours after the assassination of the nation’s president.
“In strict application of article 149 of the constitution, I have just chaired an extraordinary council of ministers meeting and we have decided to declare a state of siege throughout the country,” Prime Minister Claude Joseph said.
The Dominican Republic shuttered its border with Haiti after the assassination of the neighboring country’s president, Jovenel Moise.
The countries share a 380-kilometer (240-mile) border on the island of Hispaniola, and defense ministry spokesman Ceinett Sanchez told AFP its closure would be “immediate.”
Dominican President Luis Abinader condemned the killing, saying on Twitter the crime “undermines the democratic order in Haiti and the region.”
He offered condolences to the family of Moise and his wife Martine, who was wounded, and to the Haitian people.
The White House on Wednesday called the assassination of Haiti’s president “horrific” and said the United States was ready to help in the investigation.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the killing by still unidentified assailants a “horrific attack, this tragic attack.”
“We will be helpful in any way to the people of Haiti, to the government of Haiti if there’s an investigation,” she said, adding that the White House was “still gathering information” and that President Joe Biden would be briefed on the incident shortly.
The UN Security Council expressed its shock Wednesday over the assassination of Haiti’s president, who was slain in his home.
“Council members say they are deeply shocked by the assassination of President Moise earlier in the day… and are concerned about the fate of the First Lady, Martine Moise, who was also shot and wounded in the attack,” France’s UN ambassador, Nicolas de Riviere said.