Security fears after Haiti assassination

·3-min read

Sporadic protests have broken out in Haiti's capital as petrol shortages added to concerns over insecurity a week after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise pitched the Caribbean nation into uncertainty.

Nearly all the petrol stations in Port-au-Prince were closed on Wednesday and long lines formed outside the few that were still operating.

Residents are blaming both the criminal gangs that control key supply routes as well as opportunistic black market fuel sellers paralysing distribution into Haiti's biggest city.

Some protesters set tyres ablaze in the middle of gritty city streets, which remain quieter than usual in the aftermath of Moise's killing early last Wednesday.

Moise was shot dead at his home by what Haitian authorities describe as a unit of assassins, including 26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans.

A third Haitian American, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, was arrested on Sunday by Haitian authorities, who accused him of being a mastermind of the attack.

Prosecutors have also been preparing to question the head of Moise's security team, Dimitri Herard.

The killing came amid a surge in gang violence in recent months that has displaced thousands and hampered economic activity in what is already the poorest country in the Americas.

Eugene France, 63, said he was struggling to sell on the street any of the men's dress shoes he had slung around his neck, and he feared more violence.

"No one is safe, not even the police," he said.

"I'm scared because the gangs just keep killing people and I can't sell anything."

Outside the national palace, a small crowd gathered at a makeshift memorial with flower arrangements, rows of white candles and a Haitian flag at half mast in front of a large photograph of Moise.

Damy Makenson, a 30-year-old office worker, slowly approached the memorial, laid down some flowers and solemnly made the sign of the cross over his head and chest.

"He died working to remake Haiti, and I want you to know that his ideas did not die with him," he said, comparing Moise to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a Haitian founding father and military leader who helped put an end to French colonial rule in the early 1800s.

In New York, Haiti's UN Ambassador Antonio Rodrigue on Wednesday appealed for international help.

"At this uncertain time, Haiti needs the support of the international community more than ever," he told the 193-member UN General Assembly, where ambassadors stood to mark a moment's silence to honour Moise.

Rodrigue listed organising democratic elections and the government's ability to meet Haiti's socio-economic needs as challenges facing the nation.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said a US delegation recently in Haiti had called for dialogue to help enable free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections.

The US is still evaluating Haiti's request for assistance, and its focus is helping the Haitian government "with navigating the investigation into the assassination of President Moise," State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

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