Demonstrators protest against the government of President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in this March 28 2021 file photo. Picture: REUTERS/ESTAILOVE St-VAL
Demonstrators protest against the government of President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in this March 28 2021 file photo. Picture: REUTERS/ESTAILOVE St-VAL

Retired members of Colombia’s army are suspected of having participated in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, Colombian defence minister Diego Molano said, in yet another dramatic twist to a killing that has shaken the Caribbean nation.

Colombia received an official request on Thursday from the international police agency Interpol for information about the suspected perpetrators of the slaying, Molano said. Initial information suggests they are Colombian citizens and retired members of the army.

“We have given instruction, on behalf of the national government, to our police and army that they immediately collaborate in the development of the investigation and clarify these facts,” Molano said.

Haitian police said 28 people carried out the attack against the president, 26 of them Colombians and two US citizens of Haitian descent, the AFP News Agency said in a tweet. The group of attackers stormed Moise’s official residence early Wednesday in the first killing of a Haitian head of state in more than a century.

Haitian authorities arrested 11 armed suspects on Thursday after they broke into the Taiwanese Embassy in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville, the Taiwanese ministry of foreign affairs said Friday. The ministry said the embassy suffered no property loss and urged diplomatic staff to increase security in Haiti, which is one of 15 states that maintain relations with Taipei rather than Beijing.

Colombian troops are considered among the world’s best after having fought against local guerrillas in jungles and mountains for more than five decades. Soldiers are sometimes tempted to quit the army for the prospect of earning more money working as contractors in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Power vacuum

The assassination has left the Caribbean nation embroiled in a power struggle as rival politicians jockey to fill the political vacuum. Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph — who had been on the job for less than three months — is seen to be in charge of the nation of 11 million, and he spoke with US secretary of state Antony Blinken by phone Wednesday.

But Joseph’s hold on power is being challenged. The day before his assassination, Moise had named Ariel Henry to fill the prime minister’s post. While he was never sworn in, Henry told a local newspaper that he — not Joseph — is the prime minister, but said he favored dialogue to keep from “igniting” the country.

In the meantime, the special representative of the secretary-general for Haiti, Helen La Lime, told reporters at the UN on Thursday that Joseph is the prime minister, and that the nation planned to go ahead with the first-round election in September, with a second round in November.

Moise had plenty of enemies and had faced growing discontent in the months before his murder. Part of the anger was fuelled by the fact that he’d been ruling by decree since January 2020, after parliamentary terms expired and legislative elections were not held.

Bloomberg. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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