Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home on Wednesday morning by a foreign commando. So says outgoing Prime Minister Claude Joseph.
“The president was assassinated in his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish. They attacked the residence of the President of the Republic,” Joseph said.
The president’s wife was injured in the attack which took place at around 1 a.m. local time and was hospitalized, said Joseph. He called on the population for calm and indicated that the police and the army would ensure the maintenance of order.
Jovenel Moïse, 53, who comes from the corporate world, was elected president in 2016 and took office on February 7th, 2017. Active in several economic fields, including the exploitation of banana plantations, he had almost no experience in politics at the time of his election and was little known to his compatriots.
The Caribbean country of Haiti is plagued by insecurity and in particular kidnappings for ransom carried out by gangs enjoying virtual impunity. A situation which was worth to Jovenel Moïse, accused of inaction in the face of the crisis, to be confronted with a strong mistrust of a good part of the civil society.
That is why the UN Security Council, the United States, and Europe have called for free and transparent parliamentary and presidential elections before the end of 2021.
Moïse announced Monday the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Ariel Henry. Henry received the task of organizing elections. Governing by decree since January 2020, without Parliament, and while the duration of his mandate was the subject of disputes, Jovenel Moïse had also initiated an institutional reform.
A constitutional referendum initially scheduled for April, postponed for the first time to June 27th and then again due to the Covid-19 epidemic, was to be held on September 26th. The reform aimed to strengthen the prerogatives of the executive.
But it was in the streets of Port-au-Prince that the deterioration of the country’s situation was most evident. Since the start of June, clashes between rival gangs within the west of Port-au-Prince have paralyzed all traffic between the southern half of the country and the Haitian capital. Thousands of residents of the very poor neighborhood of Martissant, disputed by gangs, were forced to flee their homes. Some were welcomed by relatives or in gymnasiums.