Port-au-Prince-Haiti President David Moyes was shot dead by an unidentified attacker in his private residence overnight for “barbaric acts,” the government said Wednesday.
The assassination has garnered criticism from Washington. Due to this turmoil, many areas of the capital have become exclusion zones.
Interim Prime Minister Claude-Joseph said in a television statement after chairing the cabinet that the government had declared a state of emergency in the turmoil over who would take over the country’s rule. “My compatriots should be calm because the situation is controlled,” he said.
Joseph said in a statement that the 53-year-old president’s wife, Martine Moise, was also attacked at the couple’s house on the Port-au-Prince hills around 1 am local time. She was being treated.
“A group of unidentified individuals (some of whom speak Spanish) attacked the president’s private residence and inflicted fatal wounds on the head of state,” he said.
Joseph said police and the military are in control of the security situation. After an attack and overnight intermittent shootings on Wednesday morning, the streets of the normally bustling capital of one million people were quiet and empty.
“All steps have been taken to ensure the continuity of the nation and protect it,” Joseph said.
However, Haiti is politically polarized and faces increasing hunger, raising the threat of disruption of order. The Dominican Republic said it would close its shared border with Haiti on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.
“This crime is an attack on the democratic order of Haiti and the region,” said President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic.
Leaders around the world blamed the attack and appealed for calm. The United States described it as a “horrible crime,” and Colombian President Ivan Duque called on the Americas Organization to send a mission to Haiti to “guarantee a democratic order.”
It was unclear who would take over Moise as president. This week he appointed a new prime minister who has not yet been sworn in. According to the Constitution, another candidate for the job, the head of the Supreme Court, died last month at COVID-19 and has not yet been replaced. ..
Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with a population of about 11 million, has struggled to achieve stability since the collapse of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986 and has been engaged in a series of coups and foreign interventions.
United Nations peacekeeping operations aimed to restore order after the rebellion of then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004, and the country was still in turmoil and ended in 2019. Haiti has been hit by a series of natural disasters in recent years and is still scared by the 2010 earthquake.
Moise, who turned from a banana exporter to a politician, faced fierce protests after taking office in 2017. He denied those accusations.
Moise sought to push for a controversial constitutional amendment, which had been governed by law for over a year after the country failed to hold a legislative election.
The US embassy said in a statement that it would be closed on Wednesday due to “ongoing security conditions.”
White House spokesman Jen Psaki said in Washington that the United States had evaluated a “tragic attack” and President Joe Biden was to be briefed on the assassination.
“We are ready and by our side to provide the support we need,” she said. “Of course, our embassy and the State Department will be in close contact, but that’s a tragedy. It’s important that we stand with them and the Haitians know it.”
The United States, Haiti’s largest donor, accused Haiti of explaining it as a systematic violation of human rights, fundamental freedoms and attacks on the press on June 30. The Biden administration has called on the Haitian government to counter the surge in gangs and violence.