Haitian President Jovenel Moïse assassinated during armed attack at home
HAITI – Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated overnight during an armed attack at his private residence, a top Haitian official confirmed to Local 10 News Wednesday.
First Lady Martine Moïse was shot during the attack and is hospitalized, interim Premier Claude Joseph said.
Haitian news outlets reported that a group of people, some of whom spoke in Spanish, stormed the home around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Cellphone footage that was taken overnight appearing to be from outside the president’s home shows armed men in the street outside the residence.
It’s unclear whether the video was taken before or after the attack.
The official who spoke to Local 10 News said the assassin posed as a DEA agent.
Joseph condemned what he called a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act,” adding that Haiti’s National Police and other authorities had the situation in the Caribbean country under control.
The White House described the attack as “horrific” and “tragic” and said it was still gathering information on what happened. U.S. President Joe Biden will be briefed later Wednesday by his national security team, spokesperson Jen Psaki said during an interview on MSNBC.
“The message to the people of Haiti is this is a tragic tragedy,” she during a previously scheduled interview on CNN. “It’s a horrific crime and we’re so sorry for the loss that they are all suffering and going through as many of them are waking up this morning and hearing this news. And we stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed.”
The killing comes amid deepening political and economic stability and a spike in gang violence.
Moïse, 53, spoke with Local 10 News anchor Calvin Hughes in May as the opposition was holding rallies and protests day after day, calling for him to resign.
Hughes said he traveled with the presidential motorcade to various parts of the country as Moïse wanted to show him what he believed were his successes.
Hughes said Moïse had heavy security, but there had been multiple assassination attempts on his life beginning when he was first elected president.
While the country has been unstable for some time, Hughes said he believes the president’s killing will create a lot of panic and more unrest in Haiti.
The nation of more than 11 million people had grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moïse’s rule.
Its economic, political and social woes have deepened, with gang violence spiking heavily in the capital of Port-au-Prince, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming scarcer at times in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day.
These troubles come as Haiti still tries to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016.
Moïse had been ruling by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold elections, which led to Parliament being dissolved.
Opposition leaders have accused him of seeking to increase his power, including approving a decree that limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.
In recent months, opposition leaders demanded that he step down, arguing that his term legally ended in February 2021.
Moïse and supporters maintained that his term began when he took office in early 2017, following a chaotic election that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap.
In his last post to Twitter, Moïse said he was naming Ariel Henry for the seat of Prime Minister.
“He will have to form an open government, including the vital forces of the nation, solve the problem of insecurity and accompany the CEP for the realization of the general elections and the referendum,” Moïse wrote in Creole.
The presidential and legislative elections in Haiti are scheduled to be held this year on Sept. 26. A constitutional referendum will also be held on that date. It had been postponed twice, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.