Haiti is gripped by uncertainty as doubts raised about who was behind the assassination of its president, Jovenel Moïse, have entered into a new phase of political and social upheaval.
There are multiple questions that need to be answered concerning the president’s murder.
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Meanwhile, the Haitian police have narrowed down on its citizen for plotting the assassination of the president.
Christian Emmanuel Sanon has been arrested for allegedly recruiting the gunmen for Moïse’s assassination, with political motives.
According to details provided by the police, the 63-year-old Sanon is of Haitian nationality. He arrived in the island nation in June, accompanied by seven Colombians.
The police also alleged that records had shown a man that entered the country with Sanon’s name, but it was not clear whether it was him, nor was it clear why he wanted to topple the president.
According to Haitian police chief, Leon Charles, “Christian Emmanuel Sanon arrived in Haiti on a private airline to fulfill his political objectives.”
He said investigation revealed that Sanon had contacted a company that specialised in security to recruit some bandits.
“He arrived in Haiti at the beginning of June, accompanied by some of them,” he added.
However, opposition politicians and media reports in Haiti and Colombia are now casting doubt on that version as people remained scared over an impending phase of political and social upheaval.
On Friday, Steven Benoit, a prominent opposition politician and former senator, told a local radio station, Magik9: “The president was assassinated by his own guards, not by Colombians.”
A report in a Colombian magazine, Semana, citing an anonymous source, suggested that the former Colombian soldiers had travelled to Haiti after being hired to protect Moïse, who had reputedly been receiving death threats, rather than kill him.
Further adding to the mystery, a Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo, claimed that a source had told it that security footage from the presidential compound showed the Colombian operatives arriving there between 2.30 and 2.40am on Wednesday. “That means they arrived one and a half hours after the crime against the president,” the source was quoted as saying.
Earlier on Friday, Colombian authorities named 13 of the alleged mercenaries, who Haitian security officials captured and claimed were involved.
They included Manuel Antonio Grosso Guarín, a former member of an elite unit of the Colombian army, called the urban counter-terrorism special forces group, which specialises in handling hostage standoffs and the protection of very important persons (VIPs).
Also, Paul Raymond, a 41-year-old schoolteacher from Port-au-Prince, said he was convinced the president had been betrayed by members of his own security team, who have reportedly been summoned to explain why they failed to protect him.
He claimed that none of Moïse’s bodyguards was injured during the assault. “Not even his dogs!” Raymond added.
Alfredo Antoine, a former congressman, said he suspected the murder was the work of powerful Haitian oligarchs. “They killed him because they didn’t want their interests [harmed],” he claimed.
Haitian authorities were reported to have said that the 28-member hit squad bounced into the Moïse’s home and opened fire on him and his wife, Martine.
Meanwhile, members of the US FBI State Department, Justice Department, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security have also arrived in Haiti to meet with the director-general of the police.
The delegation is also met with the interim prime minister, Claud Joseph.
“I think the international community, especially the US, offered assistance in the investigation. The government believes that this investigation must move forward with transparency.
The troubled Caribbean nation has flung deeper into turmoil after President Moise was shot dead on July 27, 2021 at his Port-au-Prince home.
The police have arrested 14 Colombian nationals and three American-Haitians, including Sanon, for the murder.
Five Columbians are still at large and three are reported to have been killed. According to report, the killer squad wanted to arrest Moïse and take him to the presidential palace.
Jake Johnston, a Haitian specialist from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research think tank, said sending US troops was not the solution to the political upheaval.
“To think that foreign intervention is a solution to this is mindboggling,” said Johnson, pointing to centuries-long history of foreign meddling in Haiti, including an almost two-decade US occupation that followed the 1915 assassination of its president, Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam.
“The last intervention of the United Nations brought cholera and killed thousands of people. This is not what we need right now,” said Kinsley Jean, a youth leader and political activist.
Analysts are of the view that President Moise’s murder would be the latest in the string of the reverses of the poor struggling country.
What led to the current crisis
Before his assassination, Moise was facing a crisis of legitimacy surrounding the last year of his tenure. Civil society groups and the judiciary’s chief administrative body claimed that the expiration of his term should be calculated from the first election he won, thus ending his presidency in February 2021.
But Moise and his supporters insisted that his five-year term began when he actually assumed power in 2017, and therefore, would expire in February 2022.
The president declared the controversy and the opposition’s effort to install a provisional government an “attempted coup” and ordered the arrest of 23 people, including a Supreme Court judge and a police inspector-general. The drama sparked fresh waves of unrest that continued in 2021.
Haiti’s political crisis takes place against a backdrop of economic and humanitarian devastation. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has never fully recovered from the 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 250,000 people and decimated its infrastructure.
In the years, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been infected with cholera, Hurricane Matthew devastated parts of the country, and now, the coronavirus pandemic has strained an already crumbling public health system, according to the Council Foreign Relations.