Murder of a President: On assassination of Jovenel Moise

The brazen assassination of Jovenel Moïse, the 53-year-old President of Haiti, has pushed the impoverished Caribbean country battered by political and economic crises into more chaos. Haitian police say 28 foreign mercenaries, including retired Colombian soldiers, killed the President at his residence in Port-au-Prince early Wednesday. Most of them were arrested and some were killed in a gun battle. But key questions — who the mastermind was, what the motive was and how a group of armed foreigners could walk into a presidential residence, shoot him dead and exit — are yet to be answered. Moïse was at the centre of a political crisis that had shaken the country in recent months. His opponents claimed that his five-year-term came to an end on February 7 and demanded his resignation. Moïse, who took over office in February 2017, months after his disputed election in 2016, claimed that his term would be over only in February 2022. When the Opposition formed a parallel government, Moïse alleged a coup and cracked down on them. Moïse came to power promising to strengthen Haiti’s institutions, fix its economy, fight corruption and stabilise governance. But he himself faced serious corruption allegations, his government could not hold the 2019 parliamentary elections and the economy contracted under his watch. The outbreak of COVID-19 made matters worse.

Now, Haiti stares into an uncertain future. According to the Constitution, the President of the Supreme Court should take charge. But the Supreme Court chief died of COVID-19 last month. There is no legislature as the 2019 elections have been postponed. For now, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph has taken charge. But Moïse had fired him two days before his death and nominated Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon, for the post. Mr. Joseph is now consolidating the government, but Mr. Henry has asked him to step down, signalling that another political crisis is taking shape in the midst of security worries. This is not the time for another power struggle. Haiti’s politicians and military should take a phased approach of uncovering the truth, stabilising the country and ensuring the formation of a legitimate administration. The government’s immediate priority should be to get to the bottom of the assassination. If foreign nationals were involved in the attack, as the police have claimed, Haiti should get international help in the investigation. And Haitian leaders should not allow the vacuum left by Moïse’s assassination to destabilise the country further. Part of the problems Haiti faces is its inability to hold free, fair and credible elections in time and ensure a peaceful transition of power. Interim Prime Minister Joseph, Mr. Henry and other leaders should come together and hold legislative and presidential elections at the opportune time to ensure that a stable government with popular legitimacy is in place to address the myriad problems the country is facing.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 5:06:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/murder-of-a-president-on-assassination-of-jovenel-moise/article35241501.ece

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