Gunmen assassinated the President of Haiti Jovenel Moise and wounded his wife in their home on July 7, 2021.
The incident has further inflicted more chaos on the unstable Caribbean country that was already enduring an escalation of gang violence, a recent surge in COVID-19 infections, and anti-government protests.
The interim Prime Minister of Haiti, Claude Joseph confirmed the killing of the President.
He also informed that the police and military were in control of security in Haiti, where a history of political upheaval and dictatorship has long prevented the consolidation of democratic rule.
Claude Joseph is likely to head Haiti for now, though that can change in a nation where the constitutional provisions have been erratically observed.
Haiti had appeared to be heading for fresh volatility ahead of the planned general elections in 2021. The late President had been ruling by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold elections and the opposition demanded the step down in recent months.
Who was President Jovenel Moise?
Jovenel Moise, a former entrepreneur who set up a string of businesses in the north of Haiti, where he hails from, burst onto the political stage in 2017 with a message and promise of re-building the impoverished nation.
Moise had campaigned on populist pledges, as all the candidates in the country do, however, he kept up the rhetoric even after he was elected in February 2017.
Opposition against late President of Haiti:
The date of his election had become the source of the political stand-off. Moise had maintained that his term ran until February 7, 2022, but leaders in opposition had claimed that it ended on February 7, 2021, and were demanding him to step down.
The disagreements on the Presidential term stemmed from the fact that Moise was elected in a vote that was canceled for fraud and then re-elected a year later.
Without a Parliament, Haiti had fallen further into the crisis in 2020 which led to Jovenel Moise governing by decree, facilitating the growing mistrust against him.
The President was also accused of inaction by the opposition in the face of the multiple crisis.
Accused of seeking more power:
The leaders in opposition had accused Moise of seeking to increase his power, including by approving a decree that had limited the powers of the court that audits government contracts. Another one was the creation of an intelligence agency that answers only to the President.
The late President had faced large protests in recent months that had turned violent as the opposition leaders and their supporters rejected his plans of holding a constitutional referendum with the proposals that will strengthen his presidency.
Haiti faces multiple crisis:
• President Jovenel Moise had ruled Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, by decree, after the legislative elections that were due in 2018 were delayed in the wake of disputes, including on when his own Presidential term ends.
• In addition to the political crisis in the country, kidnappings for ransom have also surged in recent months which reflects the growing influence of armed gangs in the Caribbean nation.
• Haiti also faces chronic poverty and recurring natural disasters.
• With inflation spiraling, food and fuel become scarcer at times in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day.
• The country is also still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that had struck in 2016.
What the US and other international bodies say on the Haiti crisis?
The United States, the United Nations Security Council, and Europe had called for free and transparent legislative and presidential elections to be held by the end of 2021.
While commenting on the assassination of the Haitian President, the US embassy in Haiti said that it was restricting the US staff in its compounds. The embassy was also closed on July 6 because of an ongoing security situation.
The White House had described the attacks as horrific and stated that it is still gathering information on what happened. The Spokesperson Jen Psaki had informed that US President Joe Biden will be briefed later by his national security team on the ongoing situation in Haiti.