Haiti: Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse has been killed in an attack in his Port-au-Prince residence on Wednesday, according to the country’s interim prime minister Claude Joseph.
Claude Joseph said the president’s home in the nation’s capital was stormed overnight by unidentified armed men who shot him dead. First Lady Martine Moïse was injured in the attack and was hospitalised.
After the attack, gunshots echoed throughout the capital. Joseph said police have been deployed to the National Palace and the upscale community of Pétionville. He stated the awful event as a “heinous, inhuman and barbaric act,” as reported by BBC. However, Joseph assured that “all measures had been taken to guarantee the continuity of the state,” urging the public to remain calm.
The White House called the killing a “horrific crime.” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he was “shocked and saddened at the death of Moïse”, calling it “an abhorrent act” and appealing for calm. On the other hand, the neighbouring Dominican Republic ordered the “immediate closure” of its border with Haiti.
Political instability under Moïse and socio-economic woes
Jovenel Moïse, 53, had been in power since February 2017. His time in office was a bumpy ride with accusations of corruption, he was challenged by waves of often violent anti-government protests. Earlier this year, Haiti saw widespread demonstrations in the capital which also extended in other cities, as people demanded his resignation. According to Haiti’s opposition, Moïse’s five-year term should have ended on 7 February 2021. There had been a year’s delay to elections after his predecessor, Michel Martelly’s departure hence Moïse insisted to hold another year as he did not take the office until 7 February 2017.
Dictatorships, chronic instability and natural disasters have left Haiti as one of the poorest nations in the Americas, and under Moïse the situation seemed to become increasingly disgruntled. With 60% already living below the poverty line, an increase in gang violence has worsened the living standard of the nation. These woes come as Haiti still tries to recover from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew of 2016.
In 2004, a UN peacekeeping force was put in place to help stabilise the country, however, was withdrawn in 2017.