Haitian president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on Tuesday night in an attack on his home, the nation’s prime minister announced.
First lady Martine Moïse was hospitalized for gunshot wounds she received in the attack. Unidentified gunmen broke into the president’s residence on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince during the night and opened fire on the couple.
“A group of unidentified individuals, some of them speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president of the republic and thus fatally wounded the head of state,” Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a statement. “The country’s security situation is under the control of the Haitian police and the armed forces of Haiti. . . . Democracy and the republic will win.”
Moïse has ruled by fiat for the past two years after Haiti failed to hold elections and the parliament dissolved. Meanwhile, a new prime minister, Dr. Ariel Henry, was scheduled to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Opposition figures said Moïse should have stepped down on February 7 of this year to complete a five-year term, and after Moïse refused to leave office thousands of Haitians protested in the streets. The government responded by arresting 23 people, including a senior judge and police official, whom Moïse accused of conspiring to assassinate him.
"There will be a transition of power that could lead to some violence, if nothing is done to prevent it" says Didier Le Bret, former French ambassador in Haiti⤵️ pic.twitter.com/xQMagY7HWY
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) July 7, 2021
Former French ambassador to Haiti Didier le Bret said the country is at risk of additional violence.
“There will be a transition [of power] that could lead to some violence, if nothing is done to prevent this,” le Bret told France 24.
Haiti has grappled with multiple coups and dictatorships since winning independence from France in 1804.