Haiti’s interim government said it was asking the United States to deploy troops to protect important infrastructure as it seeks to stabilize the country and prepare the way for elections in the wake of President Jovenel Moise’s assassination.
“We certainly need help, and we have asked our international partners for help,” interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told the Associated Press in a telephone interview late Friday. “We believe our partners can help the national police resolve the situation.”
The stunning request for US military support was reminiscent of the riot following Haiti̵
But the Biden administration has so far given no indication that it will provide military assistance. For now, it only plans to send FBI officials to help with the ongoing investigation into a crime that has thrown Haiti, a country already devastated by gaping poverty and gang violence, into a destabilizing battle for power and constitutional standoff.
On Friday, a group of lawmakers declared loyalty and recognized Joseph Lambert, the leader of Haiti’s disbanded Senate, as interim president in a direct challenge to the authority of the caretaker government. They also recognized as Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whom Moïse had chosen to replace Joseph the day before he was assassinated, but who had not yet joined or formed a government.
Joseph expressed dismay that others would try to take advantage of Moses’ killing for political gain.
“I’m not interested in a power struggle,” said Joseph, who took over leadership with police and military support. “There is only one way people can become president of Haiti. And that’s through choice. ”
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Joseph spoke as more details emerged of a killing that has increasingly taken the air of dark, international conspiracy involving a Hollywood actor, a shootout with gunmen locked inside a foreign embassy and a private security firm operating out of a cavernous warehouse in Miami.
Among those arrested are two Haitian Americans, including one who worked with Sean Penn after the nation’s devastating earthquake in 2010. Police have also detained or killed what they described as more than a dozen “mercenaries” formerly members of Colombia’s military. .
Some of the suspects were seized in an attack on the Taiwan Embassy, where they are believed to have sought refuge. National Police Chief Léon Charles said a further eight suspects were still free and searching.
The attack, which took place at Moïse’s home before dawn on Wednesday, also seriously injured his wife, who was flown to Miami for surgery. Joseph said he has spoken to the first lady, but out of respect for her grief, he has not asked about the attack.