Haiti’s interim government has said it has asked the United States to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure as it tries to stabilize the country and pave the way for elections in the aftermath of the president’s assassination Jovenel Moïse.
“We really need help and we have asked for help from our international partners,” Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Friday evening. “We believe that our partners can help the national police to resolve the situation. “
The astonishing demand for US military support was reminiscent of the tumult that followed Haiti’s last presidential assassination, in 1915, when an angry mob dragged President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam out of the French embassy and brought him beaten to death. In response, President Woodrow Wilson sent the Marines to Haiti, justifying the US military occupation – which lasted for nearly two decades – as a way to avoid lawlessness.
But the Biden administration has so far given no indication that it will provide military assistance. For now, he only plans to send FBI officials to help with the ongoing investigation into a crime that has plunged Haiti, a country already ravaged by gaping poverty and gang violence, in a destabilizing battle for power and a constitutional impasse.
On Friday, a group of lawmakers declared loyalty and recognized Joseph Lambert, the leader of Haiti’s dismantled Senate, as interim president in a direct challenge to the authority of the interim government. They also recognized as prime minister Ariel Henry, whom Moses had chosen to replace Joseph a day before he was killed but who had not yet taken office or formed a government.
Joseph expressed his dismay that others are trying to profit from the murder of Moses for political gain.
“I’m not interested in a power struggle,” said Joseph, who has assumed the leadership with support from the police and military. “There is only one way for people to become president in Haiti. And that goes through the elections.
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Joseph spoke as more details emerged of a murder that increasingly looked like a murky international plot involving a Hollywood actor, a shootout with gunmen hiding in a foreign embassy and a security firm private operating in a cavernous warehouse in Miami.
Among those arrested are two Haitian Americans, including one who worked alongside Sean Penn in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake in the country. Police also detained or killed what they described as more than a dozen “mercenaries” who were former members of the Colombian military.
Some of the suspects were arrested during a raid on the Taiwanese embassy where they reportedly sought refuge. National police chief Léon Charles said eight other suspects were still at large and wanted.
The attack, which took place at Moïse’s home before dawn on Wednesday, also seriously injured his wife, who was flown to Miami for surgery. Joseph said he spoke to the first lady, but out of respect for her bereavement he did not inquire about the attack.