Haiti probes Haitian-American connection to president’s assassination

Haitian officers in Port-au-Prince reported Thursday that they have arrested six suspects, including two Haitian-American men, in connection with President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination Wednesday at his home. Four died during a shootout.

Léon Charles, director of Haiti’s National Police, described them as mercenaries during the official announcements on national radio and television. Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s minister of elections, identified one of the Haitian-American men as James Solages, The Associated Press reported.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph reopened the airport and he appeared to have the support of the Armed Forces of Haiti and the National Police. Before the assassination, Moïse named Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon, prime minister.

A police truck takes two detainees to the police station of Petion Ville in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. According to Police Chief Leon Charles, the two detained are suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Mose. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn) (Joseph Odelyn/)

Bocchit Edmond, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., told The Associated Press the killers were well-trained foreign mercenaries who pretended to be U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agents.

First Lady Martine Moïse, who was injured when Moïse, 53, was killed, was at Jackson Memorial Hospital Thursday in Miami-Dade County, after arriving at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport Wednesday evening. Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church parishioners prayed for her for the second day in Miami’s Little Haiti.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime both said Thursday in Miami that Haiti needs help from the U.S. Wilson was at the Little Haiti Cultural Center and told reporters that she is “fully committed” to working with President Joe Biden’s administration to help Haitians.

In downtown Miami, Miami-Dade County commissioners held a moment of silence in memory of Moïse. Monestime, a Haitian-American member of the Eden Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Miami’s Little River neighborhood, asked for prayers for Haiti.

“The United States offers condolences to the people of Haiti, and we stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday.

People look into the window of a police car carrying the bodies of two people killed in a shooting with police in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, July 8, 2021. According to Police Chief Leon Charles, the two dead are suspects in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Mose. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn) (Joseph Odelyn/)

Moïse won the November 2016 presidential election and he was sworn in February 2017. In recent months, there were Haitians in South Florida who feared for his life. There were fiery protests. Moïse had been ruling by decree.

The presidential and legislative elections in Haiti are on Sept. 26. Moïse pushed for a constitutional referendum to help strengthen the presidency.

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