NAfter the assassination of the Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, his widow made public statements about the attack for the first time. “I’m alive, but I’ve lost my husband,” said Martine Moïse in an audio message that was published on Twitter on Saturday. The authenticity of the recording has been confirmed by Haiti’s Minister of Communications, Pradel Henriquez.
The head of state was shot dead in his home in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday night. According to police, a murder squad made up of “26 Colombians and two US citizens of Haitian origin” was involved in the attack. Martine Moïse was injured in the attack and flown to Miami for treatment.
“In the blink of an eye, the mercenaries broke into my house and riddled my husband with bullets without even giving him a chance to say a word,” said Moïse in the audio message. It should not be allowed “that his blood was shed in vain”. Martine Moïse said that her husband had campaigned for the expansion of the infrastructure and for elections in the autumn. “This is a fight that he fought for us, it has to be continued.”
The US reportedly refuses to send troops to Haiti for the time being after the assassination attempt. “There are currently no plans to provide US military aid,” the New York Times quoted a senior US government official on Friday. Haiti’s interim government had asked the former occupying power to send troops to help secure places that are important for the infrastructure, as election minister Mathias Pierre told international media. A power struggle became apparent in Port-au-Prince: the Senate elected a new interim president.
House of Lords not quorate
However, the upper house of the Haitian parliament has no longer had a quorum since January 2020. According to media reports on Friday, eight of the ten senators still in office nevertheless voted for the previous Senate President Joseph Lambert as the transitional successor to Head of State Moïse. Two abstained accordingly. “I express my modest gratitude to the political institutions that support me,” Lambert wrote on Twitter. He wants to pave the way for a democratic change of power. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for September in Haiti.
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Lambert’s election is seen as a challenge to the interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph’s claim to power. However, it was initially unclear whether Lambert could actually take up the office of interim president and appoint his own prime minister. Because a parliamentary election planned for October 2019 was canceled due to violent protests against Moïse, among other things, there are only ten out of 30 senators whose terms of office have not expired. Nobody sits in the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies.
According to a joint letter, several political parties and movements in the Caribbean state, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, had agreed on Lambert as interim head of state. The neurosurgeon Ariel Henry is to become interim prime minister and thus head of government. Moïse appointed him the seventh prime minister of his term in office on Monday.
Henry’s swearing-in was canceled after the assassination attempt. Foreign Minister Joseph, who had been interim prime minister since April, announced that he would remain in office for the time being. In the past few days he has given speeches to the nation, signed edicts and held talks with representatives of foreign governments. In an interview with the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste, Henry said he believed he was Prime Minister – not Joseph.
20 suspects arrested
So far, 20 suspects of the murder squad have been arrested and three killed. Colombia’s leadership has identified 13 former soldiers from the South American country as allegedly involved.
The background to the act was unclear. Some activists and politicians suspected it was a coup. According to reports from Le Nouvelliste, several people were called to the prosecutor’s office to investigate the attack in the coming days – including the men responsible for the security of the president, as well as opposition politicians and two powerful businessmen who are said to be abroad.
Haitians outside the American embassy in Port-au-Prince hope to be recognized as refugees on Friday
Protests against Moïse, who had been in office since 2017, had recently paralyzed Haiti again and again. He was accused of corruption, links to brutal gangs and autocratic tendencies. In February opposition parties appointed a transitional president because, in their opinion, Moïse’s term of office had expired. Most recently, bloody fighting between gangs for control of parts of the capital has displaced thousands of people and obstructed the movement of goods. The feasibility of the planned elections is therefore questionable.