By Hannah Claire Brimelow
The president of Haiti, Jovenel Moise, was killed by gunmen on his private residence on Tuesday night.
His wife, Martine Moise, is receiving medical treatment after being shot during the attack.
“My compatriots, remain calm because the situation is under control,” Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said on TV. He had just chaired a cabinet meeting that declared a state of emergency.
According to Joseph, unidentified attackers entered the couple’s Port-Au-Prince property around 1 A.M. He said some were speaking Spanish.
Moise, 53, was a banana exporter before he was elected in 2017. Opposition parties had been demanding he step down.
Reuters notes that the island country “has struggled to achieve stability since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, and has grappled with a series of coups and foreign interventions. A U.N. peacekeeping mission – meant to restore order after a rebellion toppled then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 – ended in 2019 with the country still in disarray. In recent years, Haiti has been buffeted by a series of natural disasters and still bears the scars of a major earthquake in 2010.”
Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. The United States is the leading provider of aid to the country.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “We stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed.”
The nation’s next leader is undetermined at this time. Although he has stated he is in charge, Interim Prime Joseph was slated to be replaced by Moise appointee Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon. Joseph has been in his position for three months. Haiti’s constitution allows for the head of the Supreme Court to succeed the president. However, the Miami Herald reported “Supreme Court Judge René Sylvestre, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died… the University Hospital of Mirebalais” in June. His replacement has not been named.
The U.S. Embassy has been closed with no reopen date given. Haitian borders have also been closed following the attack on the president.
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