Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise was killed during an attack on his private residence early on Wednesday, according to the country’s acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph.
Joseph said in a statement that a group of unidentified individuals attacked Moise’s home at around 1 a.m. and fatally wounded the head of state. The statement does not specify how the President was killed. Haiti’s first lady was shot and is receiving treatment, he added.
The Prime Minister called the assassination a “heinous, inhumane and barbaric act” and called for calm.
“The security situation in the country is under the control of the Haitian National Police and the Haitian Armed Forces,” the statement added. “All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the State and to protect the Nation.”
It isn’t immediately clear who will replace Moise. Judge Jean Wilner Morin, President of the National Association of Haitian Judges, told CNN that the line of presidential succession in the country is now murky.
Haiti’s President of the Supreme Court would normally be next in line, but he recently died of Covid-19. For the acting Prime Minister Joseph to formally replace the President, he would have to be approved by Haiti’s parliament, said Morin. But without recent elections, the parliament is effectively defunct.
Moise was 53 years old. The former banana exporter was a controversial figure and spent most of the past year waging a political war with the opposition over the terms of his presidency.
Many in the country were disputing his right to continue serving in the presidency this year.
While the United States, United Nations and Organization of American States supported his claim to a fifth year in office, critics say he should have stepped down in February 7, 2021, citing a constitutional provision that starts the clock once a president is elected, rather than when he takes office.
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