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HTI | Jul 7, 2021

Haitian president assassinated at home in ‘barbaric act’ -PM

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Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise speaks during the investiture ceremony of the independent advisory committee for the drafting of the new constitution at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti October 30, 2020. (File Photo: REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters)

Haitian President Jovenel Moise was shot dead by unidentified attackers in his private residence overnight in an “inhuman and barbaric act” and his wife was injured, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said on Wednesday (July 7).

He said the police and army had the security situation under control but gunshots could be heard throughout the capital after the attack, which occurred amid a rising wave of politically linked violence in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Video circulated on WhatsApp on July 7, 2021 shows unidentified gunmen with heavy weapons moving outside the residence of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse in Pelerin 5, commune of Petion-ville in Port-au-Prince, this Wednesday around 1a.m. Multiple gun shots are heard (invisible dark footage) allegedly when gunmen entered the residence.

With Haiti politically divided, and facing a growing humanitarian crisis and shortages of food, there are fears of widespread disorder. The Dominican Republic said it was closing the border it shares with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola.

“The President was injured and succumbed to those injuries,” Joseph said in an interview with Radio Caraibes.

Jovenel Moise addresses the media next to his wife Martine after winning the 2016 presidential election, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Picture taken November 28, 2016. (File Photo: REUTERS/Jeanty Junior Augustin)

Port-au-Prince had been suffering an increase in violence as gangs battle one another and police for control of the streets.

The bloodshed is driven by worsening poverty and political instability. Moise faced fierce protests after taking office as president in 2017, with the opposition accusing him this year of seeking to install a dictatorship by overstaying his mandate and becoming more authoritarian – charges he denied.

“All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the state and to protect the nation,” Joseph said.

Moise had ruled by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold legislative elections and wanted to push through a controversial constitutional reform.

Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise speaks during a news conference to provide information about the measures concerning coronavirus, at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti March 2, 2020. (File Photo: REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares)

The US Embassy said in a statement it would be closed on Wednesday due to the “ongoing security situation”.

The United States had on June 30 condemned what it described as a systematic violation of human rights, fundamental freedoms and attacks on the press in Haiti, urging the government to counter a proliferation of gangs and violence.

Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader held an emergency meeting early on Wednesday about the situation but had yet to issue a statement.

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