Haitian President, Jovenel Moïse, has been assassinated after gunmen attacked his private residence on Tuesday night, the country’s interim Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister who described the assassination of Moise as a “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act,” also stated that the First Lady, Martine Moïse, has been hospitalized following the overnight attack.
“The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti. Democracy and the republic will win,” Joseph said in the statement from his office.
Early on Wednesday morning, the streets were largely empty in the Caribbean nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince, but some people were seen ransacking businesses in one area, with Joseph saying police have been deployed to the National Palace and the upscale community of Pétionville and will be sent to other areas.
Haiti’s economic, political and social woes have deepened recently under Moise, with gang violence spiking heavily in the capital, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming scarcer at times in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day.
The 53-year-old Moise had been at the centre of calls for him to step down as citizens had grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under his administration, but part of the country’s problems have been attributed to the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016.
Moïse had been ruling by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections, which led to Parliament being dissolved with opposition leaders accusing him of seeking to increase his power, including approving a decree that limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.