(CMC)- Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has declared a state of siege in Haiti following the assassination of 53-year-old President Jovenel Moise and injury to his wife, Martine, during an armed attack at their private residence above the hills of Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.
Martine was reported to be in stable but critical condition and efforts were under way to move her to Miami for treatment, said Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the United States.
Edmond had also said that the attack was carried out by “well-trained professional commandos” and “foreign mercenaries”, the state of siege is a legal instrument used by the government in the event of imminent danger such as armed insurrection or foreign invasion towards the nation.
It generally includes several provisions with the army replacing the police regarding public security and certain freedoms such as movement of people, demonstration is severely restricted. It also allows for a curfew to be imposed.
In a radio and television broadcast, Joseph, who Moise had earlier this week replaced with Ariel Henry, as the seventh head of a government since 2017, told Haitians that the killers appeared to have been foreigners.
“The first pieces of information we have is that it is a group of English and Spanish speaking individuals with large caliber weapons who killed the President of the Republic.
“As head of government still in office, this morning I convened a Special Superior Council of the National Police (CSPN) in the strict application of article 149 of the Constitution …where we decided to declare the state of siege over the whole country,” he said.
Moise said he was urging the population to keep calm “in these difficult times,” adding “all people and sectors in country must stand together as one to condemn what has happened.
“Haitian people keep calm because the situation is under control,” he said, adding “President Jovenel Moïse will not be dead without justice being done, you can kill him, but you cannot kill his ideas. “I ask all the vital forces of the nation to help us in the battle, in the continuity of the State, because it is democracy, it is the Republic which must win, the black forces will lose”.
Joseph promised that those responsible for Moise’s death “will pay for what they did in court,” reiterating that the security forces were ensuring that the country remains calm.
“Let’s seek harmony, let’s move forward together so that the country does not sink into chaos,” he said.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Haiti is a member is due to issue a statement on the killing, but individual government leaders have strongly condemned the assassination and vowed to assist Haiti overcome this latest hurdle.
Former Secretary-General of the African Catibbean and Pacific (ACP) group, Dr. Patrick I. Gomes said “this tragic deed of assassination of President Moise Jouvenal of Haiti is a dark day of terror and criminality in the entire Caribbean and the Americas marking a deeply disturbing event that must be fiercely condemned by all governments especially the United States which wields tremendous power over the economy and politics of Haiti.
“No stone should be left unturned to investigate and bring to justice those forces within or without Haiti, responsible,” he said adding: “I join in extending condolences to the family and people who share the grief of an elected Head of State …who has died by so brutal an act of violence.”