The Assassination of Haiti President: What happened?

Jovenel Moïse, fifty-three years old, was shot dead at his Pelerin 5 neighborhood.

Jovenel Moïse, fifty-three years old, was shot dead at his Pelerin 5 neighborhood. Police state that the assassination occurred at 1:00pm local time on July 7, 2021.

The president had bullet wounds on his torso and forehead and was shot twelve times. According to the investigation’s judges, the president’s left eye had a hole, and his arms and ankles were broken. However, he died at the scene of the assassination. His wife, first lady Martine Moise was also attacked, but she survived.

Haitian police state that a group of two Haitian Americans together with twenty-six Colombians performed the killings. However, there is the question of who pulled the trigger. The country’s opposition leader Steven Benoit spoke to the local radio stations, and he believes that the president was killed by his close security agents and not the Colombians.

El Tiempo, a Colombian newspaper, quoted an unidentified source stating that the group of twenty-eight individuals had arrived at the president’s residents between 2:30 and 2:40 am, way after the stated time for the president’s killing (BBC, 2021). Audio published on Twitter described the president wife’s experience where she stated that the armed force entered the house within a short time and shot the president.

How they gained access and the suspect

Video footage taken by residents exposed men in black clothes arriving with many cars. A man who was thought to be the president’s security guard looks to be forced to lie down while another man is overheard speaking at a loudspeaker, alerting the others about DEA operation, and ordering everyone to stay down.

Bochit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the US, believes the attackers we not US agents despite the attackers disguising themselves as US drug agents. Despite the property gatehouse having several shots, officials state that it is questionable why the only injured people were the president and his wife. The Haitian police state that twenty-eight suspects were detained, three have been killed, and five are missing.

The twenty-six of them were Colombians, and two were Haitian Americans. The two Haiti Americans stated that they were not aware that there was a plot to kill the president but knew they were being hired to act as interpreters. On July 11, 2021, the police stated that Christian Emmanuel, a Haitian national hired the twenty-six hit squad from Miami known as CTU managed by Tony Intriago, a Venezuela national.

Mr. Intriago was the first person the suspects contacted when the police caught them. The police found Drug Enforcement Administration cap and weapons in his possession.

Figure 1; Location of Moise’s Killing
(Source; BBC News)

Suspects met to plan a future without Moise

While the Haitian officials accuse the suspects of planning Moise’s assassination, the participants said the plot intended to plan a government once the president finished his term.

Most of the people under investigation in connection with the death of Moise had met before the assassination to discuss rejuvenating the country after the end of the Moise era. According to the police, the participants are Colombian Intelligence officers.

The meeting that happened in the Dominican Republic and Florida looks to be connected with the collection of the suspects, connecting the sixty-three-year pastor and doctor based in Florida. The Haitian authorities have identified them with the twenty former Colombian commandos and grabbed political power in the aftermath.

However, it remains unclear how powerful the people under investigation were to accomplish the assassination. Interviews carried out with some people involved showed that the suspects had been collaborating for months, describing themselves in lavish terms, such as being well powered ready to take over Haiti with American support (Kurmanaev, Robles & Turkewitz, 2021).

The Haitian officials claim that Christian Sanon conspired with other people to reign the country once Moise died. He is currently in custody. There is an investigation by the Haitian official whether the president’s security also was part of the plot, and the palace head security is under detention.

The broad situation of Haiti and why the president was controversial

The president’s death heat on a backdrop of the country’s political instability with the major roles in the government being vacant and the parliament being non-operational. The opposition had called for Moise’s resignation.

The high tension because of the assassination has seen people taking the streets and burn vehicles asking for justice. The United Nations have reported that thirteen thousand people have fled from Port-au-Prince to look for shelter.

The insecurity levels follow the huge wave of kidnappings at the beginning of this year. There have been battles between rival groups and police to manage the city streets, which have deteriorated the country’s humanitarian crisis, posing a threat to the fuel and food supplies. Moise was controversial because most people in Haiti disputed him to continue serving the country.

However, he had stated that his five-year term would end in 2022, a move supported by the USA and United Nations, and the Organization of American States. The opposition accused him of allowing insecurity and corruption to increase in Haiti. 

Moise Succession

Currently, it is not clear yet who will replace Moise. The National Association of Haitians Judge, Judge Jeans Wilner, stated that the succession was messy because of the political instability.

Normally, the country’s President of Supreme Court would succeed, but the position is empty because the occupant died recently due to Covid-19 complications. What remains is the acting prime minister to succeed, and for his succession, he has to be approved by the parliament, which is presently non-operational.

Worsening the situation further, Ariel Henry, who the president appointed before dying, was in the process of replacing Joseph. Henry stated that Joseph was not a prime minister but just a part of his government. However, the acting prime minister has called for peace and states that the nation’s security is under the management of the Haitian National Police and Armed forces (Hu & Smith-Spark, 2021).

He further called for investigation for the killings to be carried out and the UN to hold a Security Council meeting regarding Haiti. He urged the UN to send troops to guard the country airports, oil terminals, and ports.

References

BBC. (2021). Haiti president’s assassination: What we know so far. Retrieved 16 July 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-57762246

Hu, C., & Smith-Spark, L. (2021). Haiti’s leader has been killed. Here’s what you need to know. Retrieved 16 July 2021, from https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/07/americas/haiti-explainer-jovenel-moise-assassination-cmd-intl/index.html

Kurmanaev, A., Robles, F., & Turkewitz, J. (2021). Suspects in Haitian President’s Killing Met to Plan a Future Without Him. Retrieved 16 July 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/15/world/americas/haiti-assassination-suspects.html

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