Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has been assassinated in an attack on his home, according to a statement from the country’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph who called the killing a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act”.
A group of unidentified individuals attacked Moïse’s private residence overnight on Wednesday and shot him dead, Joseph said.
The president’s residence has also issued a statement saying the attack occurred around 1 am and that the first lady was also wounded in the attack and is currently hospitalized. Her condition was not immediately clear.
A reporter for Le Nouvelliste and presenter on Radio Magik 9 Robenson Geffrard said the assassination was carried out by a commando group with “foreign elements,” citing interim Prime Minister Joseph.
Joseph said that Haiti’s National Police and other authorities had the situation in the Caribbean country under control.
The nation of more than 11 million people had grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moïse’s rule. Its economic, political and social woes have deepened, with gang violence spiking heavily in the capital of Port-au-Prince, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming scarcer at times in a country where 60 percent of the population makes less than $2 a day. These troubles come as Haiti still tries to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016.
Moïse, 53, had been ruling by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections, which led to Parliament being dissolved. Opposition leaders have accused him of seeking to increase his power, including approving a decree that limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.
In recent months, opposition leaders demanded that he step down, arguing that his term legally ended in February 2021. Moïse and supporters maintained that his term began when he took office in early 2017, following a chaotic election that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap.
Haiti was scheduled to hold general elections later this year.