Assassination in Haiti: What's Going On?
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
On 7th July, Haitian president Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his private residence in Port-au-Prince, while the first lady was injured. The assassination caused more instability in the region, with gang activity surging. The challenging situation also slowed down humanitarian aid reaching the region.
The day after the assassination, Claude Joseph became the Interim Prime Minister and some of his first executive decisions included a 15-day mourning period from the 8th to the 22nd of July, as well as putting Article 149, that denotes the continuity of the state, into action.
Food prices have risen, there is a scarcity of fresh products on the market, as well as shortages of gasoline. The Dominican Republic has since closed its borders with Haiti due to safety concerns. This assassination has added more tension to the already existing tension caused by high Covid-19 cases. So, how was Haiti before Jovenel Moise's rule, how is Haiti after his death, how did the world respond, and what does the future of Haiti look like?
This guide explores the details.
Before the assassination
Haiti gained its independence from the French in a slave revolution that occurred in the 19th century. However, the nation was still facing poor conditions that made it struggle. These conditions were brought by periods of invasion, violence, and dictatorships. Major events took place in Haiti before the assassination of Moise.
The 2010 earthquake killed between 100,000 and 300,000 people which led to a social, economic, and political crisis that the country has not recovered from despite global efforts to help. In 2011, the then-President Michel Martelly had won a second term, causing regular protests between 2012 and 2014 that demanded Martelly to resign. In 2017, Jovenel Moise became the Haitian president after winning the 2016 elections.
Consistent political unrest led to the 2019 elections being cancelled, causing Moise to gain more power by his own decree. On 7th February of this year, leaders of the opposition stated that Moise's five-year term had ended, but Moise insisted his term would end in February 2022 since he became president in 2017. In April, Joseph Jouthe resigned from his position as Prime Minister since killings and kidnappings increased.
The Moise government had set elections to be held in September, with the possibility of having a referendum that further extended the president's power. However, the vote on the referendum was delayed. Finally, on 7th July, President Moise was assassinated. So, how does Haiti look after the assassination?
The assassination brought fear and concern amongst Haitians. Since the assassination caused a dangerous power vacuum, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph asked the US and the UN about the possibility of sending troops to "strategic" sites, such as seaports and airports, to protect them from possible gang activities. However, the US stated that there were currently no plans of providing military assistance.
In an interview with CNN, he expressed the urgency of his duty to pass the torch to the next Haitian leader. He expressed how he must organise elections as soon as possible to fill the power vacuum. Haitian UN representative Helen La Lime stated that the Haitians should be the ones to decide and no one else. She added that no foreign power should have a say in Haiti's future either, further extending her stance with Haitian civil society leaders deciding their future.
Haiti is in turmoil after the assassination. Gang activities and social unrest are on the rise. However, the Haitians are determined to rebuild the country. They are demanding a better leadership that can end the country's long battle with political corruption, economic crisis, and social woes.
The world was horrified by the assassination of Moise. Colombian President Ivan Duque urged the Organisation of American States, which is the primary point for policy analysis and decision-making in the Western Hemisphere, to send a mission to Haiti. He also called the attack a "cowardly act". President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic described the assassination as an attack against Haiti's and the region's democratic order.
In the West, France called the assassination a "cowardly assassination", with the EU's Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell tweeting: "this crime carries a risk of instability and a spiral of violence". UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for "calm" in a tweet where he expressed his condolences to Haiti. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also condemned the assassination. US President Joe Biden called it a "heinous act" and "horrific", affirming the United States’ position in standing ready to help Haiti.
With the world showing solidarity with Haiti, what does the nation's future look like?
The Haitian future
Haiti's future seems uncertain. With a power vacuum that still needs to be filled, social, political, and economic unrest, and rising crime rates, the situation in Haiti is worrying. The Haitians have expressed their readiness to do what is necessary to improve their country, but high gang activity in the country have made, and will keep making that hard as long as they are present.
A government needs to be elected quickly. Otherwise, the nation's safety will remain far too vulnerable.
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