Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse shot dead

A group of armed men have stormed the presidential palace

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Haiti's President Jovenel Moise

BarcelonaHaitian President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead Wednesday by a group of armed men who stormed his residence in the Pelerin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. The news was given in a statement by the Prime Minister, Claude Joseph. In the attack, the first lady, Martine Moïse, was also shot and hospitalized. The head of government has appealed for calm and declared that the police and the army will be deployed to maintain order.

Emerging from outside the traditional oligarchies, Moïse, a 53-year-old businessman, was elected in 2016 in a low-turnout election marked by decades of endemic violence in the country, the poorest in the Americas. Moïse could not take office until a year later and has wanted to extend his mandate taking into account this lost year, which has caused a new wave of protests. The country is immersed in a political and social crisis: Moïse had already denounced a plot to assassinate him and on Monday he had appointed a new prime minister, Ariel Henri, a 71-year-old surgeon, only three months after Joseph took over as head of government, who had the mandate to organise elections in September, rejected by the opposition. With parliament's rejection, Moïse has ruled by decree for his entire term. Haiti suffers from the scourge of insecurity, with armed groups acting with impunity with murders and kidnappings that serve to finance them. For the past year, ongoing demonstrations in the country have accused the President of inaction.

Sinking into violence

Ana Ayuso, a researcher at Cidob, recalls the context of social and political crisis in the Caribbean country. "After the 2011 earthquake, the international community sent a lot of money, but in a country without an institutional base everything was left in the hands of oligarchs and governance was not improved. It is a country in continuous political crisis. Only President Michel Martelli (2011-2017) managed to finish the mandate. It is a totally unstable situation, as it is a country where the security forces cannot control the territory and that is why it has become a base for drug trafficking and arms trafficking networks".

Ariel Henry, Moïse's seventh prime minister in four years, is closer to the opposition, but most parties had rejected his appointment and demanded the president's resignation. A referendum on constitutional reform was due to be held on September 26th (initially scheduled for the end of June) at the president's proposal and widely rejected by the opposition because it strengthens the executive's prerogatives, as it abolishes the Senate and allows the president to be re-elected for two successive terms.