Widow of slain Haitian leader allegedly blames political enemies as power struggle intensifies

Martine Moise, the widow of slain Haitian president Jovenel Moise on Saturday accused shadowy enemies of organizing his assassination to stop democratic change, as a struggle for power intensified in the Caribbean nation.

Haiti has been reeling since Moise was gunned down early on Wednesday at his home in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Martine Moise, who was wounded in the attack, said her husband was targeted for political reasons.

“You know who the president was fighting against,” a voice recording posted on her Twitter page said, without naming anybody.

“They sent mercenaries to kill the president at his home with members of his family because of roads, water, electricity and referendum as well as elections at the end of the year so that there is no transition in the country.“

Haitian authorities said foreign, trained assassins comprised of 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans carried out the assassination.

Colombian media suggested the Colombians may have been hired as security for the president.

But fresh questions have been raised over Haiti’s official narrative for the assassination, as uncertainty gripped the Caribbean country and the streets of the capital remain eerily quiet amid fears Haiti is lurching into a new phase of political and social upheaval.

The late president, who spoke of dark forces at play behind years of unrest – rival politicians and oligarchs angry about his attempts to clean up government contracts and politics – had proposed a referendum to change Haiti’s constitution.

The referendum, scheduled for 26 September along with presidential and legislative elections, could abolish the prime minister’s position, reshape the legislative branch and strengthen the presidency.

Moise’s killing has clouded those plans and led to political disarray in Haiti’s government, which has appealed for troops from the United States and the United Nations.

The United States said it has no plans to provide Haiti with military assistance, while the request to the UN would need authorization from its Security Council.

Late on Friday, the man Moise appointed as prime minister just before the assassination claimed the right to lead Haiti. But competing claims by political rivals have fueled uncertainty as the government scrambles to maintain order and provide answers to the public about the killing.

Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon who was named prime minister by the late president on Monday, told Reuters he was now the highest authority in Haiti, not interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, and that he was forming a government.

“After the president’s assassination, I became the highest, legal and regular authority because there was a decree nominating me,” he said in a phone interview late on Friday.

The power struggle has created confusion over who is the legitimate leader of the country’s 11 million people.

Elections Minister Mathias Pierre said acting premier Joseph would keep that role until the 26 September vote.

There is no sitting parliament as legislative elections scheduled for late 2019 were postponed amid political unrest.

Haitian officials have not given a motive for the assassination or explained how the killers got past Moise’s security detail.

Taking power in 2017, Moise’s administration was beset by mass protests, first over corruption allegations and his economic record, then over his increasing grip on power.

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