Port-au-Prince, Jul 10 (AP):
Haiti’s interim government said it asked the US to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure as it tries to stabilize the country and prepare the way for elections in the aftermath of President Jovenel Moise’s assassination.
‘We definitely need assistance and we’ve asked our international partners for help,’ Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press in a phone interview. ‘We believe our partners can assist the national police in resolving the situation.’
The stunning request for US military support recalled the tumult following Haiti’s last presidential assassination, in 1915, when an angry mob dragged President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam out of the French Embassy and beat him to death. In response, President Woodrow Wilson sent the Marines into Haiti, justifying the American military occupation which lasted nearly two decades as a way to avert anarchy.
But the Biden administration has so far given no indication it will provide military assistance. For now, it only plans to send FBI officials to assist with the ongoing investigation into a crime that has plunged Haiti, a country already wracked by gaping poverty and gang violence, into a destabilizing battle for power and constitutional standoff. A group of lawmakers declared loyalty and recognized Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti’s dismantled senate, as provisional president in a direct challenge to the interim government’s authority. They also recognized as prime minister Ariel Henry, whom Moise had selected to replace Joseph a day before he was killed but who had not yet taken office or formed a government.
Joseph expressed dismay that others would try to take advantage of Moïse’s murder for political gain.
‘I’m not interested in a power struggle,’ said Joseph, who assumed leadership with the backing of police and the military. ‘There’s only one way people can become president in Haiti. And that’s through elections.’
Joseph spoke as more details emerged of a killing that increasingly has taken the air of murky, international conspiracy involving a Hollywood actor, a shootout with gunmen holed up in a foreign embassy and a private security firm operating out of a cavernous warehouse in Miami.
Among those arrested are two Haitian Americans, including one who worked alongside Sean Penn following the nation’s devastating 2010 earthquake. Police have also detained or killed what they described as more than a dozen ‘mercenaries’ who were former members of Colombia’s military.
Some of the suspects were seized in a raid on Taiwan’s Embassy where they are believed to have sought refuge. National Police Chief Léon Charles said another eight suspects were still at large and being sought.
The attack, which took place at Moïse’s home before dawn Wednesday, also seriously wounded his wife, who was flown to Miami for surgery. Joseph said he has spoken to the first lady but out of respect for her mourning has not inquired about the attack.
Colombian officials said the men were recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean nation in two groups via the Dominican Republic. US-trained Colombian soldiers are heavily sought after by private security firms and mercenary armies in global conflict zones because of their experience in a decades-long war against leftist rebels and powerful drug cartels.
In an unexplainable twist would’ve surely outed any highly sensitive mission, some of the men posted on Facebook photos of themselves visiting the presidential palace and other tourist spots in the Dominican Republic, which shares Hispaniola Island with Haiti.
The sister of one of the dead suspects, Duberney Capador, told the AP that she last spoke to her brother late Wednesday hours after Moïse’s murder when the men, holed up in a home and surrounded, were desperately trying to negotiate their way out of a shootout.
‘He told me not to tell our mother, so she wouldn’t worry,’ said Yenny Capador, fighting back tears.
It’s not known who masterminded the attack. And numerous questions remain about how the perpetrators were able to penetrate the president’s residence posing as US Drug Enforcement Administration agents, meeting little resistance from those charged with protecting the president.
Port-au-Prince, Jul 10 (AP):