Haiti’s interim government asks the US for security security
Haiti’s interim government said Friday that it had asked the US for security aid to protect critical infrastructure while trying to stabilize the country and pave the way for elections following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
“We definitely need help and have asked our international partners for help,” said Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph in an interview with The Associated Press and declined to give further details. “We believe that our partners can assist the national police in solving the situation.”
Joseph said he was dismayed by opponents who tried to take advantage of Moïse’s assassination to seize political power – an indirect reference to a group of lawmakers declaring their allegiance and Joseph Lambert, chairman of the defunct Senate of Haiti, as provisional President and Ariel Henry, whom Moïse had appointed Prime Minister the day before he was assassinated.
“I’m not interested in the power struggle,” said Joseph in a short telephone interview, without naming Lambert. “There is only one way to become president in Haiti. And that is through elections.”
Joseph spoke just hours after the chief of Colombian police said the Colombians implicated in Moïse’s murder had been recruited by four companies and traveled in two groups via the Dominican Republic to the Caribbean. Meanwhile, the US said it would send senior officials from the FBI and Homeland Security to help with the investigation.
Haitian Police Chief Léon Charles said 17 suspects were arrested in the brazen murder of Moïse, which stunned a nation already suffering from poverty, widespread violence and political instability.
As the investigation progressed, the murder took on the appearance of an intricate international conspiracy. In addition to the Colombians, two Haitian Americans who were described as translators for the attackers were among those detained by the police. Some of the suspects were arrested during a raid on the Taiwanese embassy, where they are believed to have taken refuge.
At a press conference in the Colombian capital Bogota, General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia said that there were four companies involved in the “recruitment, gathering of these people” who were involved in the killing, although he did not identify the companies because their names were not yet known known were verified.
Two of the suspects traveled to Haiti via Panama and the Dominican Republic, Vargas said, while a second group of 11 arrived in Haiti from the Dominican Republic on July 4.
In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said senior officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are being sent to Haiti “to assess the situation as soon as possible and how we can possibly help.”
“The United States remains committed and in close consultations with our Haitian and international partners to assist the Haitian people after the president’s assassination,” said Psaki.
Following Haiti’s request for U.S. assistance, a senior government official, Psakis, reiterated previous comments that the government is sending officials to assess how this can be most helpful, but added that there are currently no plans to provide military assistance.
The US sent troops to Haiti after the last assassination of the president in the country, the assassination of President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in 1915 by an angry mob who raided the French embassy where he was seeking refuge.
Investigative magistrate Clément Noël told the French-language newspaper Le Nouvelliste that arrested Haitian Americans James Solages and Joseph Vincent said the attackers had originally only planned to arrest Moïse and not kill him. Noël said that Solages and Vincent acted as translators for the attackers.
The same newspaper quoted Port-au-Prince prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude as saying that he had instructed an investigative unit from the National Police Force to interrogate all security officers near Moïse. These include Moises Security Coordinator Jean Laguel Civil and Dimitri Hérard, Head of the General Security Unit at the National Palace.
“If you are responsible for the president’s safety, where have you been? What did you do to avoid that fate for the president?” said Claude.
His wife, who was flown to Miami for treatment, was seriously injured in the attack, which took place in Moses’ house before sunrise on Wednesday.
Joseph, with the support of the police and military, took the lead and declared a two-week “state of siege”. Port-au-Prince was already nervous at the growing power of gangs who displaced more than 14,700 people when they set fire to and ransacked homes in a battle for territory in the past month alone.
The murder brought the otherwise busy capital to a standstill, but Joseph urged the public to get back to work.
Solages, 35, described himself as a “certified diplomatic agent,” a child advocate and budding politician on a now-distant website for a charity he launched in South Florida in 2019 to serve residents of his hometown of Jacmel, southern Haiti support coast.
Solages also said he worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian embassy in Haiti and showed photos of armored military vehicles and a picture of himself in front of an American flag on his Facebook page, which was also deleted after news of his arrest .
Canada’s State Department released a statement that made no reference to Solages by name, but said that one of the men arrested for his alleged role in the killing was employed by a private contractor for “temporary reserve bodyguards” at his embassy .
Calls to the charity and Solages staff went unanswered. However, a relative in South Florida said Solages had no military training and did not believe he was involved in the murder.
“I feel like my son killed my brother because I love my president and I love James Solages,” Schubert Dorisme, whose wife is Solages’ aunt, told WPLG in Miami.
The Taiwanese embassy in Port-au-Prince said police arrested 11 people early Thursday who tried to break into the compound. There were no details of their identity or a reason for the break-in, but a statement described the men as “mercenaries” and strongly condemned the “cruel and barbaric murder” of Moïse.
“Whether the suspects were involved in the assassination of the President of Haiti must be investigated by the Haitian police,” Foreign Minister Joanne Ou told The Associated Press in Taipei.
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