After the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the country asked for UN and US troops to be deployed. Fear and uncertainty prevail in the population.
Haiti’s government has asked for UN and US troops to be deployed to secure strategically important locations after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The request was made during a conversation with the US Secretary of State and the UN, said the Minister responsible for electoral matters Mathias Pierre on Friday.
Pierre told the AFP news agency that the foreign soldiers should be used, among other things, to secure the ports and the airport. It is feared that “mercenaries could destroy infrastructure to cause chaos”. Fearing further instability, people in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, stocked up on basic foods.
The US State Department and the Pentagon confirmed receipt of a request for “security and investigative assistance” and stated that officials remained in contact with Port-au-Prince. The ministries did not provide any information on the possible dispatch of US soldiers to Haiti.
FBI investigators dispatched
The US government had previously announced its willingness to support the Haitian authorities in the investigation into Moïse’s murder. President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday FBI federal agents and other investigators would fly to the Caribbean state as soon as possible.
The UN did not initially respond to the request from Port-au-Prince. From diplomatic circles, however, it was said that the UN Security Council had to pass a resolution to this effect before UN troops could be sent to Haiti.
20 suspects arrested, three shot
Meanwhile, the search for the people behind the murder of Moïse continues. The head of state was shot dead in his home in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday night. According to police, a killer squad made up of “26 Colombians and two US citizens of Haitian origin” was involved in the attack.
Almost 20 suspects were arrested. Three were shot, five more were still on the run, according to official information on Friday. The members of Moïse’s security team received court summons.
According to Colombian police chief Jorge Luis Vargas, 17 of the Colombian participants were believed to be former army members. Colombia’s Defense Minister Diego Molano said he had instructed the police and army to work with the Haitian authorities.
Worry about food shortages
Internationally, the attack had sparked fears that the Caribbean state, which is marked by instability and poverty, would slide further into violence. In Port-au-Prince, too, the fears of many people were palpable on Friday. Among those queuing for staple groceries and propane in supermarkets were the capital city resident Marjorie and her husband. “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Marjorie told AFP. “I am preparing for the bad days that lie ahead.”
Violence by armed gangs has been increasing in Haiti for years. Also on Friday there were riots between different groups that paralyzed the traffic on an important main thoroughfare. The airport of Port-au-Prince, which was initially closed as a result of the presidential murder, was open on Friday, according to the Flightradar website.
In addition to the rampant violence, there is the institutional and political crisis in the country. Moïse has not organized any elections since he took office in 2017, and parliament has been unable to act for more than a year.
Cabinet in a state of emergency
One of the last official acts of the slain President was the appointment of Ariel Henry as the new Prime Minister. He was originally supposed to replace the previous Prime Minister Claude Joseph in the next few days. After Moïse’s murder, however, Joseph declared that he was responsible for running the country. His cabinet declared a state of emergency after the attack.
While the opposition in Haiti accuses Joseph of having usurped power, the head of government actually has the legitimacy of the UN to lead the country until further notice. The Senate in Port-au-Prince, which was actually quorate, brought a third option into play on Friday: It voted for a non-binding resolution by which Senator Joseph Lambert was elected as the new interim head of state.