The alleged murderers of the president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, 53, were arrested earlier this evening Wednesday July 7th , announced Deputy Minister of Communications, Frantz Exantus. Exantus used Social Media to declare that the suspects were on the run and that more information would be released.
Moise was shot dead by a group of assassins in his private residence during the early hours of Wednesday. Interim Prime Minister, Claude Joseph called the incident a “hateful, inhuman and barbaric act”.
Moïse’s wife, Martine, 47, was also shot and is receiving medical care. Haitian ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, said earlier in the afternoon that the first lady was in critical condition and was transferred to Miami for treatment.
Without giving further details, Joseph’s statement also stated that some of the invaders spoke Spanish, which would indicate that they are not Haitians — the country’s official languages are French and Creole.
The Haitian ambassador to the US even said, in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, that the killers who broke into Moïse’s house claimed to be members of the American Anti-Drug Agency (DEA, its acronym in English). “It was a well-orchestrated attack. They [os agressores] told people who came as part of a DEA operation.”
Later, at a news conference, Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department responsible for US diplomacy, said the charges were “absolutely false”.
The country is now headed by the interim prime minister, as he said in an interview with the American newspaper The New York Times — the country’s Supreme Court president would be the name to fill the gap, but the last incumbent, René Sylvestre, died last month past, victim of Covid-19.
After a cabinet meeting with other members of the government, the prime minister declared a state of siege, which gives even more powers to the Executive in the country where the Legislative had its functions practically annulled by Moise. The authoritarian leader has governed by decree since last year, after suspending two-thirds of the Senate, the entire Chamber of Deputies and all the mayors.
Joseph also called on the international community for the president’s assassination to be investigated and on the United Nations (UN) for a Security Council meeting to be convened. According to information from the AFP news agency, the agency will meet, at the request of the United States and Mexico, on an urgent basis on Thursday (8) to discuss the Haitian situation. Brazil is part of the council, as a rotating member.
The attack on Moise came amid a growing wave of violence linked to the country’s political crisis. With Haiti deeply polarized and facing a humanitarian crisis and food shortages, there are fears of widespread disorder.
Earlier this morning, there were reports of gunfire throughout the capital, Port-au-Prince, and early in the morning, security forces set up a system to control the movement of people in the streets. According to the Reuters news agency, the city’s international airport was closed, and the neighboring Dominican Republic ordered a blockade of the border it shares with the country.