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JUST IN: Haiti President, Jovenel Moise Assassinated At His Home; First Lady Hospitalised

Haitian President Jovenel Moise has been assassinated at his home, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said.

A group of unidentified individuals attacked the private resident of Moise overnight on Wednesday and shot him dead, Joseph said. The first lady was hospitalised in the attack.

“The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti,” Joseph said in a statement from his office. “Democracy and the republic will win.”

“All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the state and to protect the nation,” Joseph added. Moise had been ruling Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, by decree after legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed and following disputes on when his own term ended.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, the streets were largely empty in the Caribbean nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince, but some people ransacked businesses in one area. After the attack, gunshots could be heard throughout the capital.

Joseph said police have been deployed to the National Palace and the upscale community of Pétionville and will be sent to other areas.

Joseph condemned the assassination as a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act”. He said some of the attackers spoke in Spanish but offered no further explanation. Situation ‘distressing and deteriorating’

The nation of more than 11 million people had grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moise, who was 53.

The attack occurred amid a rising wave of politically linked violence in the impoverished Caribbean nation. With Haiti politically divided, and facing a growing humanitarian crisis and shortages of food, there are fears of widespread disorder. Laurent Dubois, author of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, said there were still “a lot of details to be understood” about Moise’s “shocking” assassination.

“There’s been an enduring political crisis worsening over the past several years,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Over the past months, in particular, there have been a lot of warnings coming from observers on the ground that the situation has gotten extremely distressing and deteriorating. This is part of that course of events but it is very difficult to understand exactly what transpired and also, worryingly, exactly what will unfold over the next couple of days in the wake of this.” Port-au-Prince had been suffering an increase in violence as gangs battle one another and police for control of the streets. That violence was fuelled by an increase in poverty and political instability.

Some 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.

Moise has faced fierce protests since he took office as president in 2017, with the opposition accusing him this year of seeking to install a dictatorship by overstaying his mandate and becoming more authoritarian – charges he denied.

In addition to presidential, legislative and local elections, Haiti was due to have a constitutional referendum in September after it was twice postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dubois, a professor of history at the University of Virginia, said Moise left “a mixed legacy”. “Since his election, there have been continual problems and contestation of his legitimacy as president,” he noted. “Adding to that, most recently the COVID crisis has been dealt very poorly.” Source: AL JAZEERA and NEWS AGENCIES



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