Haitian President Jovenel Moise has been assassinated at his home, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said.
A statement from Haiti’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, said the attack took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning. “A group of individuals who have not been identified, some of whom were speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the President of the Republic and fatally injured the Head of State,” he wrote.
Joseph said the first lady was also shot but has survived the attack. He condemned the “odious, inhuman, and barbaric act” and appealed for calm, adding: “All measures have been taken to ensure the continuity of the State and to protect the Nation. Democracy and the Republic will win out.”
Joseph said he has assumed control of the country and is blaming outsiders for the fatal attack. “The president was assassinated at his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish,” he reportedly said.
According to videos from the scene as reported by the Miami Herald, a man with an American accent was impersonating a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency operative. “DEA operation. Everybody stand down. DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down,” he said.
Earlier this year, Haiti was rocked by mass anti-government protests, with thousands taking to the streets in February to question the legitimacy of Moïse’s presidency. Haiti’s opposition argued that his five-year term should have ended this year, but he insisted he had one more year to serve.
There were supposed to have been elections held in 2018, but Moïse had been ruling by decree and declared that there was too much instability to hold free and fair elections.
The president said earlier this year that an assassination plot against him had been foiled by his security agencies, announcing in February: “I thank my head of security at the palace. The goal of these people was to make an attempt on my life… That plan was aborted.”
More to follow on the assassination..
Haiti is a Caribbean country that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic to its east. Though it’s still recovering from a 2010 earthquake, many of Haiti’s landmarks dating to the early 19th century remain intact. These include Citadelle la Ferrière, a mountaintop fortress, and the nearby ruins of Sans-Souci Palace, the baroque former royal home of King Henry I.
Haiti is in the western one-third of the island of Hispaniola between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. This small, tropical country is west of the Dominican Republic and is south of the island of Cuba. The land is mountainous.