Police kill four after Haiti’s president assassinated

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Four people suspected of assassinating Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse are killed during a shootout with the safety forces, police say. Two others are detained, while officers are still in combat with some remaining suspects within the nation’s capital Port-au-Prince.

“They are going to be killed or captured,” captain Leon Charles said.

Mr. Moïse, 53, was fatally shot and his wife was injured when attackers stormed their home early Wednesday.

The unidentified gunmen entered the private residence in Port-au-Prince at 01:00 civil time (05:00 GMT). Mr. Moïse was killed, but First Lady Martine Moïse survived and has been flown to Florida where she is receiving treatment.

She is reported to be in a stable but critical condition.

“Four mercenaries were killed [and]two were intercepted under our control,” Mr. Charles said during a televised statement late on Wednesday. “Three policemen who had been taken hostage are recovered.”

“We blocked [the suspects]on the way as they left the scene of the crime,” he added. “Since then, we’ve been battling with them.”
Speaking after the killing, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph involved calm and declared a nationwide state of emergency.

The state of emergency, or “state of siege”, allows for the banning of gatherings and use of the military for police roles, alongside other extensions of executive powers.

US President Joe Biden offered condolences to the people of Haiti for the “horrific assassination”. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, called it “an abhorrent act” and also appealed for calm.

Mr. Moïse became president of Haiti in 2017, but in recent times faced widespread protests demanding his resignation.

Coups, political instability, widespread gang violence, and natural disasters have plagued the country for many years and rendered it the poorest nation within the Americas.

What can we realize about the shooting?
Mr. Joseph said the attackers were “foreigners who spoke English and Spanish”. Haiti’s official languages are Creole and French.

Some reports spoke of men wearing black who carried high-powered weapons who may have pretended to be a part of a US drug enforcement operation, although no official details are given.

Haiti’s ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, said there was “no way” US drugs agents administered the attack. He believed it had been the work of “professional mercenaries”.

Mr. Edmond later told Reuters press agency that the attackers were masquerading as US drug agents once they entered the president’s residence.

 

Addressing the state, Mr. Joseph vowed the killers would be delivered to justice and said the safety situation was “under control”.

There has been widespread international condemnation of the assassination. The UN Security Council, which is thanks to holding a closed-door meeting on the killing on Thursday, issued a press release during which it made “an emphatic turn all political stakeholders in Haiti to refrain from any acts of violence or incitement”.

Who will take control?

Mr. Joseph said that “all measures are taken to make sure continuity” which “democracy and therefore the republic will win”.

But questions remain about what proportion control he can assert.

Haiti’s constitution says ministers, under the leadership of the prime minister, take hold within the event of a presidential vacancy until elections are often called.

But that also remains unclear, as a replacement prime minister, Ariel Henry, was named by Mr. Moïse just in the week but has yet to be sworn in.

The US said it believed elections should plow ahead this year, to cause a peaceful transfer of power.

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