Haitian officials have asked the US to send military troops to the country to help safeguard its airports and oil reserves — as a “shadow of violence” threatens the impoverished nation after the assassination of its president.
“We definitely need assistance and we’ve asked our international partners for help,” Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press on Friday.
“We believe our partners can assist the national police in resolving the situation.”
The country’s minister of elections told the New York Times earlier Friday that the Haitian government made the plea to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“The group that financed the [killer] mercenaries want to create chaos in the country. Attacking the gas reserves and airport might be part of the plan,” said elections Minister Mathias Pierre.
US State Department officials did not confirm the request, the Times reported, while White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said only that the US plans to send FBI agents and other federal investigators to aid in the probe into President Jovenel Moïse’s murder.
“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.
Haiti has for years been plagued by gang violence, poverty, political corruption and authoritarianism — and many fear the instability created by Moïse’s assassination could sow further chaos in the country.
Residents were flocking to grocery stores and other shops to stock up on food and water after the leader’s slaying.
A “shadow of violence” and “sense of uncertainty” has descended on the nation’s capital city, said Robenson Geffrard, a longtime reporter for one of the nation’s newspapers, to the Times.
The country also faces a governmental crisis, with a dysfunctional parliament that is not filled to capacity and uncertainty about who should rightfully wield executive power.
President Moïse was shot to death in a daring, pre-dawn raid Wednesday allegedly carried out by a 28-member hit squad made up of a number of Colombians and two Americans, officials said.
After their arrests Thursday, the Americans, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, claimed to a judge investigating the murder that they were only there to act as translators for other members of the hit team, the New York Times reported.
The pair also told the judge that the hit squad had worked for a month to plan the raid — and met repeatedly in a ritzy hotel in suburban Port-au-Prince.
The Americans also claimed to the judge that the squad did not intend to kill Moïse and instead wanted to arrest him and bring him to the presidential palace.