Haitian President Jovenel Moise was killed and his wife wounded Wednesday morning in an armed attack on their home, the Acting Prime Minister announced.
Claude Joseph said he now manages the country and urged the public to be calm, stressing that the police and the army will ensure the safety of the population.
“The president was killed in his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish,” Joseph said.
Moise had ruled Haiti, the poorest country in the United States, by order, after the 2018 parliamentary elections were delayed due to conflicts, as well as the end of his term.
In addition to the political crisis, the kidnapping of compensation has increased in recent months, further highlighting the growing influence of armed gangs in this Caribbean country.
Haiti also suffers from chronic poverty and frequent natural disasters.
The president faced stiff opposition from a segment of the population who saw his ownership as illegal, and went through a series of seven prime ministers in four years. Recently, Joseph was due to be replaced this week after just three months in office.
In addition to presidential, parliamentary and local elections, Haiti was due to hold a constitutional referendum in September after being twice postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Supported by Moise, the draft constitutional reform, aimed at strengthening the executive, was strongly rejected by the opposition and many social organizations.
The current constitution was enacted in 1987 after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship and declares that “any popular consultation aimed at amending the Constitution by referendum is strictly prohibited”.
Critics have also claimed that it is impossible to hold elections, due to insecurity in the country.
Moise had been accused of failing to act in the face of many conflicts, and he faced stiff opposition from the entire population.
Protests by President Jovenel Moise Haiti
Protesters take part in protests demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on October 20, 2019.
The UN Security Council, the United States and Europe have called for free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of 2021.
Henry, 71, was part of Haiti’s response to the coronavirus and previously held government positions in 2015 and 2016 as Minister of Home Affairs and then Minister of Social Affairs and Labor.
He was also a cabinet member of the Minister of Health from June 2006 to September 2008, before becoming chief of staff, a position he held from September 2008 to October 2011.
Moise had instructed Henry to “form a broad-based government” to “solve the cry of insecurity” and to work for “a general election and a referendum”.
Henry is close to the opposition, but his nomination has not been welcomed by many opposition parties, which have continued to demand the president’s resignation.