Port-au-Prince, Jul 7 (EFE).- The suspects in Wednesday’s assassination of President Jovenel Moise have been apprehended, the government’s spokesman said.
“The alleged assassins of President Moise were intercepted by police in Pelerin shortly before 6:00 pm,” Communication Secretary Frantz Exantus said on Twitter.
Pelerin 5 is the wealthy Port-au-Prince neighborhood where the president and first lady Martine Moise maintained their private residence.
Residents of Pelerin 5 reported intense gunfights in the area Wednesday afternoon.
Around 1:00 am Wednesday, armed assailants speaking English and Spanish broke into the Moise home and opened fire, killing the president and wounding Martine Moise, who was flown to Miami hours later for medical treatment.
Haiti’s interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, declared a state of siege in a televised address after presiding over an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, saying that “all measures have been taken to ensure the continuity of the state.”
The head of government, who is now leading the country, condemned the “hateful, inhumane and barbaric act,” said that Haiti’s National Police and armed forces have the security situation under control and called for calm in the restive Caribbean nation.
The streets of Port-au-Prince were calm and practically empty after the assassination, with members of the National Police controlling access to the Pelerin 5 neighborhood.
The airport in Port-au-Prince was closed, with flights due to land in the Haitian capital either re-routed elsewhere or canceled, while the Dominican Republic shut its four border crossings with Haiti and also suspended cross-border flights.
Reactions poured in from the international community after Moise’s assassination.
US President Joe Biden condemned the killing as a “heinous act” and a very worrisome sign of the depths of Haiti’s political crisis.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination of President Jovenel Moise and the attack on first lady Martine Moise of Haiti,” Biden said. “We stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for his part, condemned the assassination and issued a call for unity and the preservation of the constitutional order.
In September 2019, thousands took to the streets to call for Moise’s resignation amid widespread corruption, fuel shortages, hunger and insecurity in the impoverished country.
Moise’s assassination came two months before presidential and legislative elections slated for Sept. 26.
The 53-year-old Moise would have been ineligible to run, but authorities scheduled a referendum on a new constitution on the same day. Moise backed the measure, saying it was needed to strengthen the powers of the president, but it was unpopular with the opposition and the international community.
The opposition said that Moise should have handed over power in February of this year, or five years after Haiti’s previous president, Michel Martelly, had left office. EFE