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World leaders have reacted with shock and revulsion to the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise as Colombia urged the Organization of American States to send an urgent mission to Haiti to “protect the democratic order”.
Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader called the killing on Wednesday “an attack against the democratic order in Haiti and the region” and ordered the “immediate closure” of the country’s border with Haiti.
The United Nations Security Council expressed its dismay over the murder of Haiti’s president, who was slain in his home in an attack that wounded his wife.
“Council members say they are deeply shocked by the assassination of President Moise earlier in the day … and are concerned about the fate of the First Lady Martine Moise, who was also shot and wounded in the attack,” France’s UN ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the assassination in the troubled Caribbean nation, which has grown increasingly unstable in recent years.
Colombian President Iván Duque condemned what he called a “cowardly act” and expressed solidarity with Haiti. He called for an urgent mission by the Organization of American States “to protect democratic order”.
Other initial reactions reflected concern about Haiti’s security.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the brazen attack, his spokesman said in a statement.
“The secretary-general calls on all Haitians to preserve the constitutional order, remain united in the face of this abhorrent act, and reject all violence,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. “The United Nations will continue to stand with the government and the people of Haiti.”
The UN 15-member Security Council also condemned the assassination and “made an emphatic call on all political stakeholders in Haiti to refrain from any acts of violence and any incitement to violence,” it said in a statement.
The council, that is due to be briefed in a closed-door meeting on Thursday, called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, tweeted “this crime carries a risk of instability and [a] spiral of violence”.
France denounced the “cowardly assassination”.
“All light must be shed on this crime, which takes place in a political and security climate that has severely worsened,” said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “I urge all those in Haitian politics to act with calm and restraint.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged calm. “I am shocked and saddened at the death of President Moise,” Johnson said on Twitter, sending condolences to Haiti. “This is an abhorrent act and I call for calm at this time.”
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez also condemned the assassination.
“I’d like to make an appeal for political unity to get out of this terrible trauma that the country is going through,” Sánchez said.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu expressed his “grave sorrow” about the “cowardly” killing, extending his condolences to Moise’s family and the Haitian people on social media.
Meanwhile in the Italian capital Rome, Pope Francis expressed “his sadness and condemns all forms of violence as a means of resolving crises and conflicts,” read a telegram
signed by the Vatican’s informal number two, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.
US President Joe Biden said he was “shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination”. He condemned the “heinous act”, offering wishes for the first lady’s recovery.
“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.”
The opposition in Haiti had accused the United States – Haiti’s top foreign donor – of being too lenient towards Moise, given his support for US foreign policy.
His administration broke ranks with the Caribbean community (Caricom) to oppose Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Interim leader Claude Joseph said he was now in charge of Haiti and urged the public to remain calm while insisting the police and army would ensure people’s security.
Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, was already in a precarious political situation before the assassination, having grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moise.
Moise, 53, ruled by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections and the opposition demanded his resignation in recent months.
‘Hot’ streets expected
The assassination risks further destabilising the Caribbean nation.
Kim Ives, a journalist and an editor with the newspaper Haiti Liberte, told Al Jazeera from New York City that “all hell was going to break loose” in the country.
“The opposition has been pressing to make a transitional government. The head of the UN office there, Helen Lolly, who is a longtime career [US] State Department officer, was somewhat sympathetic to it from what my sources tell me,” he said.
“Now that Jovenel is gone and there is no clear successor … I imagine now the US, which holds a predominant weight in Haiti, will try to bring about some kind of transitional government.
“The streets, though, are going to be very hot. There are armed neighbourhood organisations … which have called for a revolution of the system, and by that they mean the entire system – including all the power that the bourgeoisie of Haiti wields.”
Joseph said in televised remarks after chairing a cabinet meeting the government declared a state of emergency amid confusion over who would take over the reins of the country. “My compatriots, remain calm because the situation is under control,” he said.
‘Identify the perpetrators’
Argentina’s foreign ministry strongly condemned the assassination of Moise, reaffirmed its solidarity with Haiti and expressed its rejection of the use of violence.
“Argentina hopes that peace and tranquility will soon be recovered in the country and asks for respect for democratic institutions. It calls for the perpetrators of the crime to be quickly identified so that they can be held responsible for their actions,” it said.
Bolivia’s President Luis Arce said: “We condemn these acts of violence … our condolences to the Haitian people.”
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen offered her sympathies to Haitians in a statement on Twitter. “We wish the First Lady a prompt recovery & stand together with our ally Haiti in this difficult time,” Tsai wrote.