Haitian President assassinated: 15 Colombians and 2 Americans arrested, the mystery remains
Steph Deschamps / July 10, 2021
Three days after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the country's authorities indicated on Friday that they had asked the United States and the UN to send troops to secure strategic sites. While it is known that the armed group that executed the president was composed of 28 people (26 Colombians and two Americans of Haitian origin), no details have emerged about the reasons for this act or the identity of its sponsors, and the mystery of this assassination remains. Police and military officials in Colombia have said that at least 17 former Colombian military personnel are suspected of being involved in the assassination.
Fearing that vital infrastructure such as ports, airports, oil terminals or the transportation of petroleum products would be targeted to create confusion, the Haitian government asked Washington and the United Nations to send troops to secure them. After the assassination of the president, we thought that the mercenaries might destroy some infrastructure to create chaos in the country. During a conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State and the UN, we had made this request, Mathias Pierre, minister in charge of electoral issues, told AFP. The U.S. State Department confirmed that the Haitian government had requested security and investigative assistance. We remain in regular contact with Haitian officials to discuss how the United States can help, a spokesman said.
A U.N. diplomatic source had earlier indicated that Haitian authorities had made the request to protect the airport and oil facilities, but that a Security Council resolution was needed to do so.
Seventeen individuals were arrested - fifteen Colombians and two Americans, for their involvement in the murder of President Moïse, killed at his home on Tuesday night, according to Haitian police. Three Colombians also accused of being members of the commando were killed by the police, while eight others were still on the run, the Haitian police said, although the figures differed slightly according to other official sources.Taipei said on Friday that 11 suspects had been arrested in the Taiwanese embassy compound in Port-au-Prince. Without confirming the arrest of U.S. citizens, the United States said it would send FBI officials to Port-au-Prince as quickly as possible.
Paralyzed for several days, Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas woke up Friday in an apparent and precarious calm, AFP noted on the spot.
Public transport, banks, petrol pumps, shops and public administration were starting to function again, with people rushing to supermarkets to stock up on basic necessities. I don't know what will happen tomorrow or the day after in the country, so I'm preparing for bad days. I buy in priority everything that can be stored for several days, Marjory, who was shopping in Port-au-Prince, told AFP. But everyone was on the lookout, trying to understand how such an attack could have happened.
Senior police officers, directly responsible for the security of the Haitian president, are in the hot seat and have been summoned to appear before the courts, the head of the Port-au-Prince prosecutor's office, Mr. Bed-Ford Claude, announced Thursday. I have not seen any police officer victim, except the president and his wife. If you are responsible for the security of the president, where were you? Others even questioned the possible involvement of these police officers, adding to the confusion.
The attack further destabilizes the poorest country in the Americas, which is plagued by insecurity. Two men are currently vying to lead the nation of 11 million people, more than half of whom are under the age of 20. One of the last political gestures of Jovenel Moïse, who died at the age of 53, was to appoint on Monday yet another Prime Minister, Ariel Henry. But a few hours after the tragedy, it was the transitional Prime Minister Claude Joseph who declared a state of siege for fifteen days, granting greater powers to the executive. While the opposition accused Mr. Joseph of monopolizing power, the U.N. envoy to Haiti said he was the responsible authority, as Ariel Henry had not yet been sworn in at the time of the assassination. In an attempt to overcome what he called an institutional and political vacuum, the Senate passed a resolution to make Senator Joseph Lambert the provisional president. This announcement by an incomplete institution, of which only some of the members are currently in office, is non-binding.
The country was already immersed in an institutional crisis: Jovenel Moïse had not held an election since he came to power in early 2017 and the country has no parliament since January 2020.