Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has been assassinated in an attack on his home, according to a statement from Haiti’s Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the government of neighboring Dominican Republic ordered the “immediate closure” of its border with Haiti after the assassination.
At around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 a group of unidentified attackers, including some speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the Haitian President, shooting him to death. The First Lady, Martine Moïse, suffered bullet injuries in the attack and was hospitalized, according to the statement. Her condition is undisclosed at this time.
Prime Minister Joseph who said he was now in charge of the country, condemned the murder calling it a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act”.
“The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti,” Joseph said in a statement from his office, adding that “Democracy and the republic will win.”
In the early hours of Wednesday, the streets were largely empty in the Caribbean nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince. However , there were looting of businesses and gunshots heard throughout the capital.
Moïse, who was 53, has faced fierce protests since he became president of the revolutionary country in 2017. He ruled by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections and the opposition demanded his resignation in recent months.
The opposition accused him this year of stalling the elections to overstay his presidency and becoming more authoritarian.
In addition to an overdue presidential, legislative and local elections which Moïse denied stalling, Haiti was due to have a constitutional referendum in September which was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas with high inflation and basic consumption becoming more scarce in recent times. The country’s economic, political and social problems have deepened with heavy gang violence in the capital city.
Sixty per cent of Haiti’s population makes less than $2 a day. The country has approximately 11 million inhabitants.
Haiti still has not recovered from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck the country in 2016.