The world was rocked this week with the news that Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home.
In response, the White House offered to provide assistance and, according to press secretary Jen Psaki, will be sending federal law enforcement officials to Haiti at that nation’s request.
“Engaged and in close consultation”
“The United States remains engaged and in close consultation with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president,” Psaki said on Friday.
She added that the U.S. made it a priority to strengthen Haiti’s law enforcement capacity even before Moise’s assassination, which led to the arrest of two Americans along with 17 Columbians thus far.
Upon arrival, officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security will assess the situation and provide assistance as appropriate.
In addition to the federal authorities, the U.S. is also sending Haiti a supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses and $5 million for its effort to combat gang violence.
The U.S. turned down a request to send military personnel to the country, however. Haiti has also made such a request to the U.N. Security Council, though a decision was not immediately announced.
“No constitutional provision”
Although Prime Minister Claude Joseph declared himself the nation’s leader in the wake of the president’s death, there is considerable resistance among Haitians because Moise had been slated to appoint a new prime minister prior to his assassination.
Violence across the country led to the cancelation of elections in 2019 and there are currently only 10 senators in office. Some of those lawmakers have appointed their party’s leader, Joseph Lambert, to serve as interim president until elections are held in September.
According to one opposition politician, the power struggle that currently exists in Haiti threatens to destabilize the entire nation.
“The assassination … has provoked a political and institutional vacuum at the highest level of state,” said Andre Michel. “There is no constitutional provision for this exceptional situation.”
Haiti’s relatively close proximity to the U.S. and the arrest of at least two Americans in connection with the assassination have necessitated the involvement of U.S. officials in this national crisis, at least for now.