Jovenel Moise, the president of Haiti, was assassinated by unknown assailants at his home last night. The country’s acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph informed about the incident.
In a statement issued by Joseph, he said that that a group of unidentified individuals attacked Moise’s home at around 1 a.m. and fatally wounded the head of state. Although the statement issued by the acting PM does not say how the president was killed, reports say he was shot dead.
The First Lady of the nation Martine Moise was also shot in the attack, and she is receiving treatment, Claude Joseph said. “A group of unidentified individuals, some of them speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president of the republic and thus fatally wounded the head of state,” the interim PM said.
The Prime Minister called the assassination a “heinous, inhumane and barbaric act”, and appealed to the public to maintain peace. “The security situation in the country is under the control of the Haitian National Police and the Haitian Armed Forces,” the statement said. It further added, “All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the State and to protect the Nation.”
As of now, four assassins behind the attack have been killed and two have been arrested. Three policemen who were taken as hostages have been recovered. Police describe it as a well-planned operation which involved assassins who knew Spanish.
The Caribbean country is already a political crisis, as the president repeatedly failed to hold elections at local and national levels, which have left a significant portion of governance in the country unmanned. Amid the Covid crisis, the country is also facing shortages of food and worsening poverty. The killing of the president can worsen the political situation in the county, which is already unstable. Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, and it has grappled with a series of coups and foreign interventions.
53-year-old Jovenel Moise is a former banana exporter, who became the president in 2017. In the recent months, he has facing fierce opposition from opposition parties, who alleged that he was trying to install a dictatorship by overstaying his mandate and becoming more authoritarian.
Moise has been ruling Haiti by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold legislative elections. He had also wanted to bring a controversial constitutional reform.
Note: Report has been updated with latest information.