The president of Haiti was assassinated at home

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

  • Jovenel Moïse was killed by a group of assailants at his home early Wednesday morning.

  • The government did not identify the perpetrators, but said they were speaking Spanish.

  • The first lady was also injured by gunshot.

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The serving president of Haiti was assassinated at his home early Wednesday morning, the government said. He was 53.

Jovenel Moïse was killed in his private hillside residence just outside Port-au-Prince at around 1 a.m. local time Wednesday by a group of assailants, Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a Wednesday statement.

The first lady was also injured by gunshot, the statement said.

Joseph said he is now in charge of the country, Agence France-Presse reported.

Joseph’s statement did not identify the assailants, but said they were Spanish-speaking. The main languages spoken in Haiti are Haitian Creole and French.

Joseph described the attack as “odious, inhumane, and barbarous.”

Haiti Jovenel Moise and wife Martine Moise

Moïse and his wife Martine in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on November 28, 2016, after he won the country’s 2016 presidential election. Jeanty Junior August in/Reuters

The attack on Moïse followed years of protests against his government, and calls for his resignation.

Moïse has served as Haiti’s president since February 2017 and the country was due to hold elections in 2019 but they were postponed.

Critics of Moïse say he is clinging on to power and argue that his term ended in February this year, AFP reported.

“He is doing everything, utilizing all kinds of maneuvers, to hold onto power and to ensure that he remains the only person governing in the country,” Gédéon Jean, a lawyer and human rights leader in Port-au-Prince, told The Miami Herald in January.

Haiti was scheduled to hold general elections later this year.

The people of Haiti were also due to vote in a referendum this September concerning reforms to the constitution that would give the executive leadership more power.

The move to reform the 1987 consitution was extremely unpopular, and was postponed twice due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Haiti’s current constiution states: “Any popular consultation aimed at modifying the Constitution by referendum is formally prohibited.”

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