PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haitian President Jovenel Moïse announced Sunday that police have arrested more than 20 people he accused of trying to kill him and overthrow his government, including a judge who has the support of opposition leaders demanding that Moïse step down.
Moïse spoke at Haiti´s airport in Port-au-Prince, flanked by the country´s prime minister and the police chief as he prepared to leave for the southern coastal town of Jacmel for the opening ceremony of its yearly carnival, which is being held amid the pandemic.
“There was an attempt on my life,” he said.
Moïse said the alleged plot began on Nov. 20 but did not provide further details or any evidence except to say among the people arrested is a judge and an inspector general with the police. Moïse then said other high-ranking officials would provide more information but they all walked away and did not speak further to reporters.
The identities of those arrested were not released, and opposition leaders could not be immediately reached for comment.
The announcement comes on the day that opposition leaders claim Moïse should resign, saying that his term ends on Sunday. Moïse has repeatedly stated that his five-year term ends in February 2022. Former President Michel Martelly´s term ended in 2016, but a chaotic election forced the appointment of a provisional president for one year until Moïse was sworn in in 2017.
The opposition has organized recent protests demanding that Moïse step down, and normally congested streets in Haiti´s capital and elsewhere remained empty on Sunday as a handful of demonstrators burned tires.
Meanwhile, Moïse appears to have the support of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Ned Price, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said Friday that the U.S. has urged Haiti to organize free and fair elections so that Parliament can resume operations, adding that a new elected president should succeed Moïse when his terms ends in February 2022.
Moïse is currently ruling by decree after dissolving a majority of Parliament in January 2020 after no legislative elections were held. He is planning an upcoming constitutional referendum in April that critics say could award him more power, while general elections are scheduled for later this year.