Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has been assassinated in his private residence by a group of armed men who also seriously wounded his wife, according to a statement from the acting prime minister’s office.
Speaking on a local radio station, Prime Minister Claude Joseph confirmed Moïse’s assassination, saying that the attack had been carried out by an “armed commando group” that included foreign elements.
“Around one in the morning, during the night of Tuesday, July 6 to Wednesday, July 7, 2021, a group of unknown persons, some of them Spanish-speaking, attacked the president’s private residence and fatally wounded the head of state.” . Joseph said in a statement quoted in the media.
Condemning “this heinous, inhuman and barbarous act,” Joseph tried to reassure Haitians and said that the security situation in the country remained calm.
He added that Moïse’s wife, Martine, was seriously injured in the attack. An official who spoke anonymously to the Associated Press also confirmed Moïse’s death.
The assassination is likely to plunge the impoverished Caribbean nation into an even greater tower after several years marked by political unrest and violence. Moïse’s time in office was marked by increased political instability, allegations of corruption and a long-running dispute over when Moïse’s term in office should end.
There have been intermittent periods of protests and street violence and an increase in gang violence, some of them linked to the country’s political parties. At the center of the crisis has been the question of when Moïse’s presidential term should end and whether he was ruling unconstitutionally.
The Haitian opposition claims that Moïse should have resigned on February 7 to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the 2015 elections that were canceled and then ran again a year later due to allegations of fraud.
Furthermore, they allege that because Moïse was unable to hold legislative elections in 2019, and has since ruled by decree after parliament ran out of legislators, he had violated the country’s 1987 constitution.
Moïse and his followers rejected that argument, saying he only took power in 2017 after winning the replay.
The instability has been compounded by the Petrocaribe scandal, a controversy that grew out of a plan to buy discounted oil from Venezuela on cheap credit. The idea was to free up funds for social plans, but the money was taken by the politicians.
Earlier this year, amid accusations by Moïse about an attempted coup that planned to “assassinate” him and further protests, Moïse moved to protect his position, ordering the arrest of 23 people, including a supreme court judge. and a senior police officer, while declaring what “a dictator is not.”
The Caribbean country, the world’s first black republic after its revolution against French rule, has a history marked by poverty, authoritarian rule, political instability and outside interference, including a long American occupation. It has struggled to rebuild since the devastating earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.