Journalists gather near a mural featuring Haitian President Jovenel Moise, near the leader’s residence where he was killed by gunmen in the early morning hours, and his wife was wounded, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 – AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn

Premier David Burt has extended condolences to the people of Haiti where the future is uncertain following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

In a statement released on Wednesday (July 7), Mr Burt said: “On behalf of the Government of Bermuda, I extend sincerest condolences to the people of Haiti and to the family of President Jovenel Moise who was killed in the early hours of this morning. We also pray for the recovery of the First Lady, Martine Moise, who was injured during the attack which claimed the life of President Moïse.

“We continue to hope for peace and stability in Haiti. We also pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters throughout the country during this difficult time.

Haiti is a proud nation, steeped in rich history. It is the oldest Black republic in the world and a fellow member of Caricom alongside Bermuda. 

The Government and people of Bermuda are here to support the people of Haiti in any way that we can.”

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports police killed four suspects in the murder, detained two others and freed three officers being held hostage.

Officials pledged to find all those responsible for the predawn raid on Moïse’s house early Wednesday that left the president shot to death and his wife, Martine Moïse, critically wounded. She was flown to Miami for treatment.”

Martine Moise, first lady of Haiti, arrives at Jackson Health System’s Ryder Trauma Center, in Miami, for treatment, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 – Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP

The Director Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles said Wednesday night: “The pursuit of the mercenaries continues,” , director of Haiti’s National Police, said Wednesday night in announcing the arrests of suspects. “Their fate is fixed: They will fall in the fighting or will be arrested.”

Officials did not provide any details on the suspects, including their ages, names or nationalities, nor did they address a motive or what led police to the suspects, the report added.

“They said only that the attack condemned by Haiti’s main opposition parties and the international community was carried out by ‘a highly trained and heavily armed group’ whose members spoke Spanish or English.

Prime Minister Claude Joseph assumed leadership of Haiti with help of police and the military and decreed a two-week state of siege following Moïse’s killing, which stunned a nation grappling with some of the Western Hemisphere’s highest poverty, violence and political instability.

“Inflation and gang violence are spiraling upward as food and fuel becomes scarcer, while 60 percent of Haitian workers earn less than $2 a day. The increasingly dire situation comes as Haiti is still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 following a history of dictatorship and political upheaval.

“Those in Haiti and family and friends living abroad wondered what is next.

In this May 23, 2018, file photo, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, left, and First Lady Martine Moise, in red, receive Spain’s Queen Letizia Ortiz at the national Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, May 23, 2018 – AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery

“Haiti had grown increasingly unstable under Moïse, who had been ruling by decree for more than a year and faced violent protests as critics accused him of trying to amass more power while the opposition demanded he step down.

“According to Haiti’s constitution, Moïse should be replaced by the president of Haiti’s Supreme Court, but the chief justice died in recent days from COVID-19, leaving open the question of who might rightfully succeed to the office.

“Joseph, meanwhile, was supposed to be replaced by Ariel Henry, who had been named prime minister by Moïse a day before the assassination.”

Henry told The Associated Press that he is the prime minister, calling it an exceptional and confusing situation. In another interview with Radio Zenith, he said there was no fight between him and Joseph.

“I only disagree with the fact that people have taken hasty decisions … when the moment demands a little more serenity and maturity,” he said.

“Moïse had faced large protests in recent months that turned violent as opposition leaders and their supporters rejected his plans to hold a constitutional referendum with proposals that would strengthen the presidency.

In this April 7, 2018, file photo, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, center, leaves the museum during a ceremony marking the 215th anniversary of revolutionary hero Toussaint Louverture’s death, at the National Pantheon museum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti – AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery

“Hours after the assassination, public transportation and street vendors remained largely scarce, an unusual sight for the normally bustling streets of Port-au-Prince. Gunfire rang out intermittently across the city, a grim reminder of the growing power of gangs that displaced more than 14,700 people last month alone as they torched and ransacked homes in a fight over territory.”

Robert Fatton, a Haitian politics expert at the University of Virginia, said gangs were a force to contend with and it isn’t certain Haiti’s security forces can enforce a state of siege.

“It’s a really explosive situation,” he said, adding that foreign intervention with a UN-type military presence is a possibility.

“Whether Claude Joseph manages to stay in power is a huge question. It will be very difficult to do so if he doesn’t create a government of national unity.”

Joseph told The Associated Press that he supports an international investigation into the assassination and believes elections scheduled for later this year should be held as he promised to work with Moïse’s allies and opponents alike.

“Everything is under control,” he said.

Associated Press writer Evens Sanon reported this story in Port-au-Prince and AP writer Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. AP writer Joshua Goodman in Miami contributed to this report.

  • Top Feature Photo: Soldiers patrol in Petion Ville, the neighborhood where the late Haitian President Jovenel Moise lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Moïse was assassinated in an attack on his private residence early Wednesday, and first lady Martine Moïse was shot in the overnight attack and hospitalized, according to a statement from the country’s interim prime minister – AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn