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There has been swift condemnation to the assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse, 53-year-old. From the United Nations, leaders of the world’s most powerful nations to the least powerful and citizens within these nations the angst over the attack has reverberated. There are many questions to be answered about how such a killing could have occurred at the President’s home when he had 24-hour security around his person and premises.
Reportedly, heavily armed assassins stormed his home in the hills above Port-au-Prince. Moïse’s office and bedroom were ransacked, his body has 12 bullet wounds, and he was found lying on his back, covered in blood. First Lady Martine Moïse was shot in the head and is presently seeking medical attention in the United States (U.S). We pray for her speedy recovery. The couple’s three children, Jovenel Jr, Jomarlie and Joverlein have escaped unhurt and are said to now be in a safe location.
Something went amiss Wednesday evening at the President’s home and a thorough investigation is needed to ascertain what happened. In recent months Haiti has been embroiled in political unrest and since the death of Moïse is now under a two-week state of emergency.
Moïse’s death will create further conflict and uncertainty on an island with a proud legacy of being the first in the Caribbean to secure emancipation. After a 13-year rebellion against France by the enslaved on 1st January 1804 they declared their freedom and set up an independent nation. Haiti and Haitians have since had their challenges, including having to pay France for their freedom. King Charles X , in 1825, demanded Haiti pay an “independence debt” of 150m gold francs – 10 times that of the nation’s annual revenue. The original sum was reduced but Haiti still paid 90m gold francs – more than US$20 billion today – to France. Haiti has also suffered from major natural disasters; is battling environmental damage (soil erosion) from poor agrarian practices, poverty, political instability, and foreign exploitation.
The assassination and accusations of who may be responsible would add another dimension to the daily challenges. There has been a deadly gun battle between the police and those suspected in the Wednesday night attack. According to Chief of Police, Léon Charles, four suspects were killed and two detained as some remained at large. He said a manhunt is still under way and the accused “will be killed or captured.” Charles has called them “mercenaries” which suggests the police believe hired guns were behind the incident.
Thus, it is important to know who hired the killers and why would they want Moïse dead. Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond, in a Reuters report, said that while the attackers spoke both English and Spanish and they disguised themselves as U.S drugs agents, he does not believe they were.
Even in the midst of turmoil it would be better to arrest those accused and have the process of justice expedited through the courts or in some other accredited inquiry panel. It is not only important to know who were involved in the planning and execution but the motive behind. A death of such high profile and with tight security had to have had a very sophisticated operation. Those are the answers that would ultimately matter most, help Haiti to heal, and move forward.