The death of President Jovenel Mose, followed by a reported gunbattle in which authorities say police killed four suspects in the murder, captured two others, and freed three policemen held hostage, has thrown Haiti into an uncertain future.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The Haitian government has declared a state of emergency.
Haiti, already struggling and chaotic, stumbled into an uncertain future Thursday, reeling from President Jovenel Mose's assassination, which was followed by a reported gunbattle in which authorities said police killed four suspects in the murder, detained two others, and freed three officers who had been held hostage.
Officials promised to uncover those responsible for the predawn raid on Mose's house early Wednesday, which resulted in the president's death and his wife, Martine Mose, being gravely wounded. She was airlifted to Miami for medical care.
“The hunt for the mercenaries continues,” said Léon Charles, director of Haiti's National Police, in announcing the suspects' arrests on Wednesday night. “Their fate is sealed: they will die in battle or be apprehended.”
Officials did not give any information about the suspects, such as their ages, identities, or nationalities, nor did they mention a motive or what led police to them. They only said the attack was carried out by "a highly trained and heavily equipped organisation" whose members spoke Spanish or English, which was criticised by Haiti's leading opposition parties and the world community.
Following Mose's assassination, Prime Minister Claude Joseph took control of Haiti with the help of police and the military and declared a two-week state of siege, which stunned a country grappling with some of the highest levels of poverty, violence, and political instability in the Western Hemisphere.
As food and fuel become scarcer, inflation and gang violence are on the rise, with 60% of Haitian workers earning less than $2 per day. The situation is becoming increasingly severe as Haiti continues to recover from the deadly 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, following a history of dictatorship and political unrest.
Those in Haiti, as well as family and friends living overseas, were left wondering what would happen next.
“There is this emptiness now, and they are afraid of what will happen to their loved ones,” said Marlene Bastien, executive director of Family Action Network Movement, a Miami-based organisation that assists residents of Little Haiti.
She said it was critical for US President Joe Biden's administration to play a more active role in supporting attempts at national discourse in Haiti in order to hold free, fair, and credible elections.
“No more band-aids,” Bastien remarked, referring to the large Haitian diaspora's participation. For far too long, the Haitian people have cried and suffered.”
Haiti had become increasingly unstable under Mose, who had been ruling by decree for more than a year and faced violent protests as critics accused him of attempting to consolidate power and the opposition demanded he resign.
According to the Haitian constitution, Mose should be replaced by the president of the Haitian Supreme Court, but the chief justice died recently from COVID-19, leaving the question of who should rightfully succeed to the office open.
Meanwhile, Joseph was supposed to be replaced by Ariel Henry, who had been appointed prime minister by Mose the day before the assassination.
In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Henry stated that he is the prime minister, calling the situation exceptional and perplexing. In another interview with Radio Zenith, he stated that he and Joseph had no beef: "I only disagree with the fact that people have made hasty decisions... when the moment demands a little more serenity and maturity."
Mose had faced large, violent protests in recent months after opposition leaders and supporters rejected his plans to hold a constitutional referendum with proposals to strengthen the presidency.
Hours after the assassination, public transportation and street vendors were scarce, an unusual sight on Port-au-normally Prince's bustling streets. Intermittent gunfire rang out across the city, a grim reminder of the growing power of gangs that displaced more than 14,700 people last month alone as they torched and ransacked homes in a fight for territory.
According to Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, gangs are a force to be reckoned with, and it is unclear whether Haiti's security forces can maintain a state of siege.
“It's a really explosive situation,” he said, adding that foreign intervention in the form of a United Nations-style military presence is a possibility. “Whether Claude Joseph retains power is a huge question. It will be extremely difficult if he does not form a government of national unity.”
According to The Associated Press, Joseph supports an international investigation into the assassination and believes elections scheduled for later this year should take place, and he has promised to work with both Mose's supporters and opponents.
“Everything is under control,” he assured them.
Source : dailyunion.com