The siege continued to tighten around the perpetrators of the assassination of Haitian President Zovenel Mois, with police announces the arrests of fifteen Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent, at a time when tensions are rising in the country over the role of law enforcement and the legitimacy of the transitional government.
THE murder President Moise, who was hit by 12 bullets at his home Tuesday night through Wednesday, was committed by a group of 28 gunmen, police said.
“We have arrested fifteen Colombians and two Americans of Haitian descent,” Leon Charles, the Haitian police chief, told a news conference. He said three Colombians had been killed and eight others were still at large.
Police have so far said they killed “four mercenaries”.
“Weapons and other material used” were confiscated by the perpetrators, Mr Charles said, stressing his determination to locate the eight fugitives.
During the press conference, several suspects lined up by police in front of a wall to show off to photographers and videographers, with their Colombian passports and weapons placed on a table.
“We now have the natural perpetrators in our hands and we are looking for the moral perpetrators”
“We now have the natural perpetrators in our hands and we are looking for the moral perpetrators,” he said.
Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano said on his part from Bogota that at least six of the mercenaries involved in the assassination were “former members of the army”.
“We have instructed (…) the police and the army to cooperate immediately in conducting this investigation to verify the facts,” Molano said in a video shared with the media by his services.
Taipei also announced today that 11 suspects were arrested in the building complex of the Taiwanese embassy in Port-au-Prince.
Police “carried out an operation around 16:00 (Thursday) and were able to arrest 11 suspects”, the embassy said, explaining that it gave “without the slightest hesitation” the green light to the request of the Haitian police to intervene in the perimeter of the embassy.
The State Department, without confirming or denying the arrest of the Americans, confirmed yesterday that it accepted the request of the Haitian police to offer assistance in the investigation it is carrying out.
Two senior police officers are in the crosshairs
At least two senior police officers, responsible for the security of the head of state, are in the crosshairs and have been summoned by justice, the head of the Port-au-Prince prosecutor’s office announced yesterday.
Bend Ford Claude, the capital’s chief prosecutor, has raised public questions about the passivity of police officers in charge of the president’s security.
“I did not find any police officers among the victims, except the president and his wife. If you were in charge of the president’s security, where were you? “What did you do to avoid this fate for the president?” He demanded to know.
In the capital yesterday, shops, banks, gas stations and small shops remained closed, in an atmosphere of restless calm.
The government yesterday demanded that the airport reopen – which is expected to happen today – and that economic activity resume.
In front of a police station in Petionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, residents cheered on police for arresting and calling for the alleged perpetrators to be lynched.
The group consisted of “professional” assassins who pretended to be members of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (DEA), according to Haiti’s ambassador to the United States, Boxi Edmon.
The international community has condemned the assassination, from US President Joe Biden to Pope Francis, and the Security Council has demanded that its perpetrators be “brought to justice as soon as possible”.
The assassination of Jouvel Mois may further destabilize the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where crime and insecurity have recently turned into gangrene.
To the questions for the perpetrators are added those about the future of the country.
Two men say they rule the country with a population of 11 million, half of whom are under 20 years old.
One of the latest political gestures of Joubel Moes, who was assassinated at the age of 53, was to name his seventh prime minister, Ariel Henry. He did not take up his duties when the attack took place.
Hours after the president was ousted, however, it was the caretaker Prime Minister, Claude Joseph, who declared a 15-day siege, giving the government and law enforcement agencies more power.
Ariel Henry said in an interview that he does not consider Mr. Joseph to be prime minister, he simply has the post of foreign minister, but added that he will not seek conflict so as not to “intensify the fire”. The opposition also accused Claude Joseph of trying to seize power.
The UN special envoy for Haiti, Helen La Lim, said interim Prime Minister Joseph represented the political authorities of Haiti, as the new prime minister, Ariel Henry, who was appointed by Moyes on Monday, had not yet been sworn in. He invoked Article 149 of the Constitution of Haiti.
Speaking to AFP, human rights lawyer and ombudsman Zendeon Jean called Joseph’s haste to declare a state of siege, leading him to “foresee a coup attempt”.
The country was already mired in political and institutional crisis. Jouvenel Moise had not held elections since taking office in early 2017 and the country has not had a parliament since January 2020.
The president – accused by his opponents of inaction in the face of the crisis and the rapidly deteriorating security situation, while facing opposition from much of so-called civil society – has basically ruled by decree.