Haiti’s interim government said on Friday it was asking the United States for security assistance to protect important infrastructure as it seeks to stabilize the country and prepare the way for elections in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
“We certainly need help, and we have asked our international partners for help,” interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told the Associated Press in an interview, declining to give further details. “We believe our partners can help the national police resolve the situation.”
Joseph said he was appalled by opponents who have tried to exploit Moses̵
“I’m not interested in a power struggle,” Joseph said in the brief telephone interview without mentioning Lambert by name. “There is only one way people can become president of Haiti. And that is through elections.”
Joseph spoke just hours after Colombian police chief said the Colombians involved in Moise’s killing were recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean nation in two groups via the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, the United States said it would send senior FBI and Homeland Security officials to help with the investigation.
Haiti’s National Police Chief Léon Charles said 17 suspects had been detained in the cheeky killing of Moïse, which stunned a nation already hampered by poverty, widespread violence and political instability.
As the investigation progressed, the killing took the air of a complicated international conspiracy. In addition to the Colombians, among those detained by the police were two Haitian Americans who have been described as translators for the attackers. Some of the suspects were seized in an attack on the Taiwan Embassy, where they are believed to have sought refuge.
At a press conference in the Colombian capital Bogota, General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia said four companies had been involved in the “recruitment, collection of these people” involved in the murder, although he did not identify the companies because their names were still under verified.
Two of the suspects traveled to Haiti via Panama and the Dominican Republic, Vargas said, while another group of 11 arrived in Haiti on July 4 from the Dominican Republic.
In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said senior FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials would be sent to Haiti “as soon as possible to assess the situation and how we can possibly help.”
“The United States remains committed and in close consultation with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the wake of the assassination of the President,” Psaki said.
Following Haiti’s request for US assistance, a senior official, Psaki, reiterated previous comments that the administration was sending officials to assess how it might be most useful, but added that there are no plans to provide military assistance at this time.
The United States sent troops to Haiti after the last assassination attempt in the country, the assassination of President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in 1915 at the hands of an angry mob that had raided the French embassy, where he had sought refuge.
Investigating judge Clément Noël told the French-language newspaper Le Nouvelliste that the Haitian Americans arrested, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, said the attackers initially only planned to arrest Moïse and not kill him. Noël said Solages and Vincent acted as translators for the attackers.
The same newspaper quoted Port-au-Prince prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude as saying he ordered an investigation unit from the National Police Force to interrogate all the security agents close to Moïse. These include Moses’ security coordinator Jean Laguel Civil and Dimitri Hérard, head of the General Security Unit for the National Palace.
“If you’re in charge of the president’s security, where have you been? What did you do to avoid this fate for the president?” Said Claude.
The attack, which took place at Moïse’s home before dawn on Wednesday, also seriously injured his wife, who was flown to Miami for treatment.
Joseph took over leadership with the support of police and military and declared a two-week “siege state.” Port-au-Prince has already been on the brink amid the growing power of gangs that displaced more than 14,700 people last month alone as they fired and ransacked homes in a battle for territory.
The killing silenced the normally busy capital, but Joseph urged the public to return to work.
Solages, 35, described himself as a “certified diplomatic agent,” an advocate for children and budding politicians on a now-removed website for a charity he started in 2019 in South Florida to help a resident of his hometown of Jacmel, at Haiti’s southern coast.
Solages also said he had worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian embassy in Haiti, and on his Facebook page, which was also taken down after the news of his arrest, he provided photos of armored military vehicles and a shot of himself stood in front of an American flag.
Canada’s foreign liaison department released a statement that did not refer to Solages by name, but said one of the men detained for his alleged role in the killing had been “briefly employed as a reserve guard” at his embassy by a private contractor. .
Calls to charity and Solages’ staff went unanswered. However, a relative in South Florida said Solages has no military training and does not believe he was involved in the killing.
“I want my son to kill my brother because I love my president and I love James Solages,” Schubert Dorisme, whose wife is Solages’ aunt, told the WPLG in Miami.
Taiwan’s embassy in Port-au-Prince said police had arrested 11 people trying to break into the connection early Thursday. It gave no details about their identity or a reason for the burglary, but in a statement, the men referred to as “mercenaries” and strongly condemned the “cruel and barbaric murder” of Moïse.
“As for whether the suspects were involved in the assassination of Haiti’s president, it must be investigated by Haitian police,” Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou told the Associated Press in Taipei.