Mercenaries Suspected of Assassinating Haitian President
Haitian officials said that the group that carried out the assassination spoke English and Spanish, and footage from the night of the attack shows them acting as American DEA agents.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated at his residence on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince early Wednesday morning.
His wife was also shot during the attack. She was airlifted to a hospital in Miami and was reported to be in stable but critical condition.
It remains unclear who exactly was behind the attack. Shortly after it happened, Interim-Prime Minister Claude Joseph told reporters, “A group of unidentified individuals, some of them speaking Spanish, attacked the private residence of the president of the republic and thus fatally wounded the head of state.”
However, in recordings obtained from the neighborhood, people can be heard approaching the house and saying over a megaphone in English, “This is a DEA operation!“
Both American and Haitian officials dismissed the idea that the United States Drug Enforcement Administration or any other American agencies had anything to do with the attack, and Haitian officials have largely come to the consensus that the operation was carried out by mercenaries.
The country’s chief of police announced Wednesday that four suspects were killed in a gun battle with police and two others were arrested, aiding hopes that authorities may get answers about who ordered the attack
Unpopularity Led to Many Enemies
The list of people who would want Moise dead is not small. He was widely hated in Haiti and abroad. He’s also faced massive protests over the current economic state of Haiti and his refusal to step down from the presidency after his term ended in February of this year. He previously argued that since he took office late, he was entitled to another year, leading him to rule by decree as there haven’t been elections for a new legislature.
Additionally, Moise and his government are thought to have stolen billions in aid given to Haiti by various governments in the region, causing most average citizens to despise him.
Still, Moise’s death has sparked fears that the country may descend into political chaos. Haiti is already facing widespread poverty and gang violence, but now there are multiple people claiming to be in charge.
Generally speaking, Claude Joseph has seemingly taken over as acting president from his role as interim prime minister. In actuality, there is another person claiming to have the position. Joseph was interim prime minister up until the day before Moise’s death when he was replaced by Ariel Henry. Joseph claims that under constitutional rules, Henry was only appointed prime minister but never actually “took office.”
“I was the one who was a prime minister, who was in office,” he said. “This is what the law and the constitution says.”
Henry has refuted the claim, telling reporters on Wednesday evening, “It’s an exceptional situation. There is a bit of confusion. I am the prime minister in office.”
It’s unclear how that situation will play out and if either will back down from claiming to be in charge, although Joseph seems to have more actual power right now.
In the U.S., President Joe Biden denounced what he called the “shocking” assassination of Moise. Meanwhile, American officials said they were ready to help investigate the assassination if asked by Haitian officials.
There are calls for, and concerns over, possible U.S. intervention in Haiti. Currently, the U.S. gives Haiti millions in aid for humanitarian concerns and to help with development, but it also has a long history of occupying Haiti for various reasons with extremely controversial results. That history has come with an expectation by some in both Haiti and the U.S. that America will respond with troops if the situation in Haiti devolves into violence, which it most recently did during President Bill Clinton’s time in office.
Even if there isn’t a direct military involvement in the country, there are also calls by lawmakers across the aisle for the Biden administration to appoint a special representative to Haiti. The hope is for the representative to reexamine how the U.S. sends aid there as it’s possible that the billions of dollars sent to help the country have largely been stolen by corrupt officials like Moise himself.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Business Insider) (NPR)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.