Haitian security forces arrest six suspected armed men after the assassination of the president

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Haitian security forces arrest six suspected armed men after the assassination of the president


Six people, including a US citizen, were arrested and seven were reportedly killed as Haitian security forces pursued the gunmen responsible for the murder of the President of the Caribbean country, Jovenel Moïse.

As Haiti reeled after the first assassination of a sitting president in the Americas since the John F Kennedy shooting in 1963, there were chaotic scenes in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Thursday. Angry civilians reportedly apprehended two male suspects while police besieged two buildings in which other suspected killers were reportedly locked.

“They killed the president! Give them to us. We’re going to burn them! the couple’s kidnappers chanted as they turned the men over to police, according to the Associated Press.

Images posted on social media showed two scruffy men being taken through the streets of Port-au-Prince by locals, one with his hands tied behind his back with white ropes. Members of the crowd reportedly set fire to several bullet-riddled vehicles which they claimed belonged to the suspects.

Haiti’s Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph called on citizens to turn suspects over to the police rather than lynch them. “I call for calm. Everything is under control. This barbaric act will not go unpunished, ”Joseph said on television.

Haitian police chief Léon Charles told local radio that seven suspects had been shot and six arrested following the murder of Moses. Brains were always in demand. In subsequent comments, he said a total of 28 attackers had been identified, 26 Colombians and two Haitians. They had come to the country to kill the president. Eight were still at large, he said.

Helen La Lime, a veteran US diplomat who is the UN special envoy to Haiti, told reporters she was told “a larger group of potential perpetrators” were surrounded by police after to have taken refuge in two buildings in Port-au-Prince.

One of two foreign men in custody for allegedly participating in the assassination plot against President Jovenel Moïse sits in the back of a police vehicle in Port-au-Prince on Thursday. Photography: Jean Marc Hervé Abélard / EPA

Speaking after an emergency UN Security Council meeting in New York, La Lime said the Haitian prime minister told him the presidential compound had been overrun by a Spanish-speaking “commando unit” and English-speaking, whose heavily armed members killed the president after posing as “a DEA force.”

“I don’t know who this commando is,” added La Lime.

Haitian authorities have described several of the suspects as “foreigners,” with the Washington Post naming one of the six men detained as James Solages, a US citizen of Haitian descent. Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics professor at the University of Virginia, said senior government sources told him other foreign nationals were involved. “From what I understand, they were Haitian-Americans or Americans,” Fatton said.

Moïse, a 53-year-old former banana exporter who took office in 2017, was murdered in his family home in the hills above Port-au-Prince on Wednesday at around 1 a.m. local time. The first lady, Martine Moïse, was also injured and evacuated to Miami where she is said to be in stable condition.

According to new details that emerged from local reports, the attackers tied up staff and one of Moses’ three children survived by hiding in his brother’s bedroom.

Moses was shot at least a dozen times and died at the scene, according to Carl Henry Destin, a judicial official, who said the president’s office and bedroom had been ransacked. “We found him lying on his back, with blue pants, a white shirt stained with blood, his mouth open, his left eye gouged out,” Destin told Haiti’s main newspaper Le Nouvelliste.

As details of the daring raid emerged, Haiti was shrouded in deep political uncertainty and the streets of the capital emptied as many residents chose to stay at home. “I really don’t know what to say… the insecurity is too strong,” said Darline Garnier, a 23-year-old university student from Pétionville, near where the president was killed.

“It’s a humiliation for our nation,” said Luckner Meronvil, a 46-year-old taxi driver, with tears in his eyes as he spoke.

Theories about who was behind the murder have spread to Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the same island. Amid claims that some of those involved in the attack spoke Spanish, the Dominican newspaper Diario Libre reported that investigators were examining the possibility that some of the assassins used the country to access or flee Haiti.

And in the feverish atmosphere, competing – and so far unverified – theories continued to emerge, one suggesting that a squad of Colombians and Venezuelans under contract with powerful figures in Haiti involved in trafficking. drugs and other crimes had ordered the murder, or that the murder involved individuals linked to Moses’ own security personnel.

Citizens take part in a demonstration near the Pétionville police station. Photograph: Getty Images

Many people in Haiti wanted Moïse to resign. Since taking office in 2017, he had faced calls to quit and mass protests, first over allegations of corruption and his management of the economy, and then over his growing grip on power. .

On Thursday, Haitians woke up in a country without a head of state, with a long-suspended parliament, two rival interim prime ministers – one of whom was due to be sworn in in the coming days – and a constitutional legal vacuum after the death of the coronavirus. the president of his supreme court.

This has created confusion as to who the legitimate leader of the country of 11 million people is – Joseph, who has taken power so far, or Ariel Henry, who was appointed prime minister by Moses just before his death. and was to be sworn in this week. “All the cards are up,” Fatton said of the apparent struggle between Henry and Joseph.

Ryan Berg, analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said: “I can imagine a scenario in which there are issues regarding the loyalty of the armed forces and the national police, in case there are competing demands for it. be placeholder chair. from the country. “

Pierre, the election minister, said Thursday evening that a presidential vote as well as a constitutional referendum that had been scheduled for September 26 before Moise’s assassination would go as planned.

“This (the vote) was not for Jovenel Moise as president: it was a requirement to obtain a more stable country, a more stable political system, so I think we will continue with that,” Pierre said. , adding that preparations were long underway and millions of dollars spent to carry out the votes.

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