Police Kill Alleged Assailants Suspected of Assassinating Haitian President Jovenel Moïse

By Shani Saxon Jul 08, 2021

Officers killed four suspects and arrested two others in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, 53,  The Washington Post reports. The attack on the president, which took place in the early morning hours on Wednesday, July 7, and also resulted in injuries to his wife, has heightened the political and safety crisis that was already plaguing Haiti. 

Haiti’s Communications Minister Pradel Henriquez didn’t identify any of the suspects in the case when speaking to The Post, but he referred to them as “foreigners.’”

The Post Reports:

The motivation for Wednesday’s overnight attack is currently unknown. Moïse dissolved parliament in January 2020 and ruled by decree as opponents and protesters demanded that he step down. Armed gangs with unclear allegiances have seized control of growing portions of the country, terrorizing the population with kidnappings, rapes and killings.

Robert Fatton, a politics professor and expert on Haiti from the University of Virginia, spoke to The Post about the possible motivation behind Moïse’s assassination and how it could have happened. “He had obviously many enemies,” he said. “There might have been some degree of complicity on the part of those protecting the president.”

One of the more outstanding questions in the wake of President Moïse’s death is who is currently running Haiti’s government. After dismissing Prime Minister Claude Joseph, Moïse was expected to install neurologist Ariel Henry as prime minister on Wednesday. Joseph, however, said that he is currently running Haiti’s government. Henry, on the other hand, told The Associated Press that Joseph is mistaken. “It’s an exceptional situation. There is a bit of confusion,” he said. “I am the prime minister in office.”

According to The Post:

The leadership vacuum is a potential powder keg in a nation grappling with deepening economic, political and social woes, with gang violence spiking in the capital Port-au-Prince, inflation spiraling, and food and fuel becoming scarcer in a country where 60 percent of the population makes less than $2 a day. 

“The past 30 years have been one calamity after another, and now it is getting more serious,” Fatton told The Post. “We have two individuals vying for the position of prime minister. The economy is in terrible shape. The covid situation is deteriorating. No one is vaccinated. And then you have the security situation. The police are completely fragmented, and some members of gangs are former police officers.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told The Post that the United States is pushing for elections in Haiti to proceed this year as planned. Jake Johnston, a Haiti specialist from the Center for Economic and Policy Research think tank, however, told the news outlet that forcing an election to happen this year could be an “extremely dangerous game.”

“There’s multiple crises happening here. There’s a massive food crisis. Hurricane season is approaching. The economic crisis is deepening,” Johnston said. “Rather than trying to rush in and solve the situation, international actors should exercise some patience.”