Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in a night-time attack by a group of yet-to-be-identified individuals who attacked his private residence, the country’s interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a Wednesday statement.
The nation’s first lady, Martine Moïse, also sustained gunshot injuries and has now been admitted into the hospital, according to local media reports.
Mr Joseph’s statement said the attack occurred around 1 a.m. on Wednesday after a group of unidentified people, some of whom spoke Spanish and whom local media called “foreign elements,” attacked the private residence of the president, fatally wounding the head of state. The president’s residence has also corroborated the statement.
Mr Joseph said he was now in charge of the Caribbean French-speaking country.
He called for calm after what he described as an “inhumane and barbaric act,” saying the police and the country’s armed forces had taken control of the security situation in the country.
Haiti, a country of more than 11 million people, had grown increasingly unstable. This led to widespread demonstrations and calls for the resignation of Mr Moïse, 53, who had been ruling by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections, leading to the dissolution of the parliament.
General elections were billed to be held later this year.
The protracted economic, political and social woes came when Haiti was looking to recover from the ruins of the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck the country in 2016.
Coupled with spiralling inflation and food and fuel scarcity in a country where 60 per cent of its population earns less than $2 a day, the devastation and political impasse have spiked the rise of gang violence especially in the capital, Port-au-Prince.