DDisturbing details of the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse are emerging as the Caribbean country grapples with the aftermath of what was officially the first assassination of a sitting president in the Americas since the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963.
Moïse, who had been facing mounting public anger over what critics called his reluctance to relinquish power, was shot and killed early Wednesday at his home in a wealthy suburb of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The first lady, Martine Moïse, was injured and evacuated to Miami, where she is reportedly in stable condition.
The last time the region witnessed such a crime was the assassination of Kennedy in Dallas, although there have long been unconfirmed suspicions that then-President of Chile, Salvador Allende, was assassinated during the 1973 coup against his socialist government.
Speaking to Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste newspaper, a local judge saying Moïse, who took office in early 2017, had been shot at least 12 times in the head, chest, hip and belly. “We found him lying on his back, in blue pants, a white shirt stained with blood, his mouth open, his left eye gouged out,” said Carl Henry Destin, who said the president’s assassins appeared to have used pistols and assault rifles.
Destin described macabre and chaotic scenes within the president’s supposedly heavily guarded address in Pelerin 5, a tree-lined district of villas and mansions on a hillside above the capital. The judge said that Moïse’s office and bedroom had been ransacked and that the president’s daughter, Jomarlie, had escaped from the gunmen by hiding in her brother’s bedroom. The entrance to the president’s home was left littered with large-caliber rifle cartridges, Destin said. Two employees were tied up when the killers entered the property.
When details of the daring raid emerged and four suspected suspects were reportedly killed and two arrested, Haiti was engulfed by deep political uncertainty and the streets of the capital emptied as many residents decided to stay home. “I really don’t know what to say … the insecurity is too much,” said Darline Garnier, a 23-year-old college student from Pétionville, near where the president was killed.
On Thursday there were signs of a power struggle sparked by the assassination of Moïse, who was only hours away from installing a new prime minister when he was assassinated. Ariel Henry, who had been announced as Haiti’s incoming prime minister on Monday but had not yet assumed office, he told Le Nouvelliste He thanked outgoing Prime Minister Claude Joseph for his work, but added: “In my opinion, he is no longer prime minister.”
Claude Joseph has so far been the public face of the crisis, announcing Moïse’s assassination early Wednesday morning and assuring the population the situation was under control.
“We really don’t know [who is governing] – and that fight between Joseph and Henry is not over, ”said Robert Fatton, a professor of Haitian politics at the University of Virginia.
“All the letters are in the air. We are really still in crisis, but the fact that the murderers were arrested may generate some calm in Haiti. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism