BROOKLYN, NY – President Jovenel Moise has been shot and killed at his private residence above the hills of Port-au-Prince during an armed attack in the early hours of Wednesday.
Media reports that his wife had died at the hospital from wounds received during the attack have been denied.
Outgoing Prime Minister Claude Joseph has since called on the population for calm and indicated that the police and the army would maintain order.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the assassination of President Jovenel Moise during an attack on his residence by mercenaries. Our hearts go out to the presidential family and the whole nation.’ The First Lady, injured, receives the necessary care.
According to the official statement, the attack on Moise took place at “around one (1) o’clock (local time) in the morning, on the night of Tuesday, July 6 to Wednesday, July 7, 2021”.
It said that “a group of unidentified individuals, some of whom spoke in Spanish, attacked the private residence of the President of the Republic and thus mortally wounded the Head of State. Wounded by gunshot, the First Lady takes the care that her case requires.”
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, who on Tuesday night at the end of their annual summit, which Moise attended virtually, had promised to state the political and economic situation in the French-speaking member country.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is also the chairman of the 15-member regional grouping, said Wednesday that he would convene a meeting of the regional leaders to discuss the latest situation.
“I am shocked to hear about the assassination of President Moise, and I pray the full recovery of his wife, who is reported to be hospitalized with a bullet wound,” said Browne, adding “the savage’s act, is a regrettable development coming at a time of great instability to Haiti.
“I hope the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet will be able to hold things together to prevent further chaos and confusion,” Browne told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
In a later statement, Browne said that “all of CARICOM feel the pain which has been inflicted on Haiti by this killing.
“Haiti was embraced by the CARICOM because of the historical role played by its proud people in 1804, declaring itself a sovereign state, where slavery was brought to an immediate end. The Haitian state has had an unstable existence, including an invasion y the United States of America in 1915 and the epoch of the Duvaliers who turned the state into their private fiefdom.”
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that he met and spoke with Moise on several occasions, and “in all my interactions with him, particularly within CARICOM, I found him to be a man committed to seeing Haiti take her place in the world.
“This heinous act is a stain on Haiti and a sorrowful time for the region. May God is a special covering over his family and the people of Haiti during this dark time in the nation’s history,” Holness added.
President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic condemned the murder saying, “this crime undermines the democratic order of Haiti and the region. Our condolences to his family and the Haitian people”.
In a statement, Andy Levin, the Michigan Democrat who co-chairs the House Haiti Caucus and is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the Biden administration to pursue a new policy toward Haiti “that puts the will and well-being of the Haitian people first.
“The murder of Jovenel Moïse is a devastating if not shocking example of the extent to which the security situation in Haiti has unraveled. For months, violent actors have terrorized the Haitian people with impunity. In contrast, the international community—the United States included, I fear—has failed to heed their cries to change course and support a Haitian-led democratic transition,” Levin said.
The White House has described the attack as “horrific” and “tragic,” and the spokesperson Jen Psaki said during an interview on American television that “the message to the people of Haiti is this is a tragic tragedy.
“It’s a horrific crime, and we’re so sorry for the loss that they are all suffering and going through, as many of them are waking up this morning and hearing this news. And we stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed.”
Opposition leaders here had accused Moïse, 53, of seeking to increase his power, including by approving a decree that limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.
The opposition, who have been staging several street protests here, had demanded Moise step down, arguing that his term legally ended in February 2021.
But he refused and was in the process of seeking to hold a constitutional referendum in September as well as legislative elections that had been due in 2018 and delayed in the wake of several disputes.
Prime Minister Browne acknowledged that Moise was “mired in a debate about whether his term ended months ago, or continues until early next year.
“This uncertainty, as well as the presence of armed gangs determined to claim control over parts of Port au Prince, the capital, made governance extremely complex and dangerous.
‘The assassination last evening further complicates the jostling for power that has characterized the Haitian state and its future,” Browne said, adding that CARICOM countries “decry the violence that has engulfed our sister CARICOM state.”
In a statement, St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris condemned “this heinous and cowardly act and hope that those responsible will soon be apprehended and brought to justice.“Wepray for calm, and that good reason will prevail. Let us continue to keep the people of our sister CARICOM Member State in our thoughts and prayers, and as a show of solidarity, reach out to the Haitian population who have come to call St. Kitts and Nevis their home” he added.The outgoing Haitian prime minister described the assassination as “an odious, inhuman and barbaric act” and that the security situation in the country is under the control of the Haitian National Police and the Haitian Armed Forces.“All measures are taken to guarantee the continuity of the State and protect the nation. Democracy and the Republic will win,” Joseph added. In addition to the political crisis, kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months, further reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs.
The country’s international airport has been closed, and the planes turn back without landing after the assassination announcement.
At least one American Airlines flight AA387 of 5:10 am from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Port-au-Prince returned to its point of departure. At the same time, Haitian airline Sunrise Airlines announced that ‘due to the current situation in Haiti, all flights are canceled and delayed until further notice, to protect staff, passengers and equipment”.
Earlier this week. Moise had appointed his seventh prime minister since coming to office in 2017.
“I have appointed citizen Ariel Henry to the post of Prime Minister. He will have to form a government of openness including the vital forces of the nation, solve the glaring problem of insecurity, and support the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) for the realization of the general elections and the referendum,” President Moïse said.