Police killed four suspects and arrested two others hours later amid growing chaos in a country already enduring gang violence and protests of his increasingly authoritarian rule after a squad of gunmen assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Mose and wounded his wife in an overnight raid on their home on Wednesday.
Haitian President Jovenel Mose Assassinated Overnight in His Home
Chief of Haiti’s National Police Léon Charles reported that three police officers kidnapped by the suspects were released late Wednesday.
The interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, has stated that the police and military are in charge of maintaining order in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, where a history of dictatorship and political volatility has long prevented the development of democratic authority.
Joseph told The Associated Press that he supports holding the elections planned for later this year and that he is willing to work with both Mose’s supporters and detractors. He also urged for an international probe into the assassination.
Mose and his wife Martine Mose were attacked in their home overnight, sending them to the hospital, as announced by interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph.
Joseph described the murder as “hateful, horrible, and savage,” and he said the country’s national police and army have the security situation under control.
Some of the attackers spoke Spanish, according to Joseph’s statement, but no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the incident.
The National Palace and a wealthy neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince have been surrounded by police.
As the end of his formal tenure in February 2021 approached, Mose, who was 53 at the time of his assassination, faced mounting pressure to resign. Since July of 2018, when food and fuel costs began to skyrocket, protesters in Haiti have been calling on Moese to resign.
Instead of retiring, Mose signed decrees limiting the authority of a court that monitors government contracts and establishing an intelligence agency led by people of the president’s choosing. Opposition leaders in the country saw this as an attempt to usurp their authority. Protesters last year said the government wasn’t doing enough to support those who had lost their employment due to the outbreak.
Unrest is feared to break out on a large scale in Haiti because of the country’s political divisions, the mounting humanitarian crisis, and the lack of food. The Dominican Republic has announced that it will be closing its border with Haiti on Hispaniola.