The president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated this Wednesday by armed men who carried out an assault on his residence last morning in the Pelerin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, as reported this morning by the Prime Minister, Claude Joseph. The first lady, Martine Moïse, who was hospitalized, was shot in the assault, according to a statement signed by Joseph. The leader called for calm from the population and assured that both the police and the army are in charge of maintaining order.
The son of a merchant and a seamstress, Jovenel Moïse gave an interview to this newspaper last February, in a country where tension was increasing week after week. Added to the political crisis is a year of fright due to the coronavirus pandemic, hurricanes and the wave of violence and kidnappings that have brought satiety to a population that has more weapons in its power than ever, as they pointed out. the experts to EL PAÍS.
The political origin of the conflict in Haiti, a Caribbean country of 11.2 million inhabitants, is in the convulsive elections of 2015. Michel Martelly ended his term, but the chaotic elections called forced the appointment of an interim president of another party, until the The electoral authority recognized Moïse’s victory a year later. For the opposition, his government began the day that Martelly left power and accused him of being a “dictator” for ruling by decree for a year.
“My mandate began on February 7, 2017 and ends on February 7, 2022. I will hand over power to its owner, who is the people of Haiti. Corrupt oligarchs used to controlling presidents, ministers, Parliament and the judiciary think they can take the presidency, but there is only one way: elections. And I will not participate in those elections ”, declared Moïse, who was 53 years old, in that same interview. At the beginning of the year, protests broke out in the capital and other cities. The protesters called for his resignation.
Moïse recently requested international support to end the serious security crisis in the country. Thus, more than 150 people were killed and another 200 kidnapped between June 1 and 30 in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, according to a report from the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) revealed on Tuesday. “The country is besieged by armed gangs that spread terror, assassinations, kidnappings, rapes (…) Port-au-Prince is besieged in the south, north and east. We are witnessing an increasingly passive society while the country is under siege ”, the organization lamented in a document.
At least six foreigners have been kidnapped, bringing the total to 20 in the first half of 2021. Three departments are isolated from the rest of the country, according to this report, which speaks of “the hegemony of crime in Haiti.” From January 1 to June 21, 30 police officers were killed compared to 26 in 2020, according to the NGO, which maintains that some were tortured.
After the crime, the international airport of Port-au-Prince has been closed, according to diplomatic sources. Several scheduled flights to the airport in the Haitian capital have been canceled or diverted to other terminals in third countries, according to information from flight tracking pages, although no authority has confirmed for the moment the closure of the airport. Two airlines that have daily routes to the Haitian capital canceled their flights scheduled for this Wednesday.
The assassinated president studied Educational Sciences at the University of Quisqueya and undertook various business projects before launching his candidacy for the presidency on September 15, 2015 by the ruling Haitian Party Tet Kale (PHTK). Although he won the first round with 32.76% against candidate Jude Celestin, of the Alternative League for Progress and Haitian Emancipation (LAPEH), there were allegations of fraud and the latter refused to participate in the second round in January 2016.
An uncertain period then began in which the country was left without a president when Michel Martelly’s term expired on February 7, 2016. In addition, months later the electoral results were invalidated and the polls were called again for October 9 , attended by Moïse for the PHTK. The passage of Hurricane Matthew days before the elections, with almost 600 dead, forced its postponement.
Moïse finally won the presidential election in the first round in November 2016, with 55.60% of the votes. Two weeks before his inauguration, on February 7, 2017, he testified before a judge on suspicions of money laundering, for an investigation that began in 2013, accusations that he rejected.
As president, he appointed doctor Jack Guy Lafontant, without political experience, as prime minister, but he resigned in July 2018 due to violent protests triggered by the announcement of a rise in the price of fuel.
The appointment of a new prime minister did not appease the social protests, to which were added suspicions of corruption around Petrocaribe. In May 2019, the Superior Court of Accounts sent a report to Parliament on the destination of the company’s funds and pointed out that the firms of Moïse and his predecessor Martelly had benefited from millionaire projects that had not been executed.
The revelations led to more protests, this time demanding the resignation of the president, at a time of crisis due to corruption, fuel shortages, hunger and insecurity. To this was added the confrontation with the opposition over the expiration date of Moïse’s mandate.
For this year legislative elections are planned, as well as the convocation of presidential elections, in which the assassinated could not be a candidate. Moïse called in June for international support and collaboration from all sectors of society to end the violence of armed gangs that has escalated. On July 5, he still appointed Ariel Henry as the new prime minister with the task of forming a consensus government that integrates different sectors of the country’s political life.