Haitian president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home overnight, according to the country’s acting prime minister.
“A group of non-identified individuals, some of whom spoke Spanish, attacked the private residence of the President of the Republic and thus mortally wounded the Head of State,”acting prime minister Claude Joseph said.
The first lady was also wounded by a bullet in the attack and is getting care, he added.
Joseph condemned the attack and called on the country to remain calm, saying measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the state, according to a translation of the statement.
Moïse was elected as president in 2016. Calls to remove him from office in 2019 ballooned into nationwide protests.
Haiti has been in political and constitutional crisis — without a functioning parliament — since January 2020, and Moïse has been ruling by decree since then. The country has been wracked by violence and large parts of the country are effectively controlled by gangs, especially in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
Haiti has suffered for years from political instability, and Moïse had been governing by decree. Critics had accused the 53-year-old of ruling like an autocrat.
Earlier this week, Moïse tapped Ariel Henry, a respected neurosurgeon and the former minister of interior, to be his next prime minister — and seventh since 2016.
“The security situation of the country is under the control of the Haitian National Police and the Haitian Armed Forces,” Joseph said. “All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the State and to protect the nation. Democracy and the Republic will triumph.”
Videos seen by the Herald showed gunmen telling people at Moïse’s home to “put down your weapons. This is DEA.” Haitian sources told the Miami newspaper that the assailants were heard speaking English and Spanish, and that they were not DEA agents, but “mercenaries.”
Prime Minister Joseph condemned what he called a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act.”