Haitian President Jovenal Moise was shot dead by unidentified attackers in his private residence overnight in an “inhuman and barbaric act”, Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said on Wednesday.
Moise’s wife was injured and was receiving medical care, Joseph said in a statement.
The attack occurred amid a rising wave of politically linked violence in the impoverished Caribbean nation. With Haiti politically divided, and facing a growing humanitarian crisis and shortages of food, there are fears of widespread disorder.
“All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the state and to protect the nation,” Joseph said.
Moise, 53, had been ruling by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections, which led to Parliament being dissolved. Opposition leaders have accused him of seeking to increase his power, including approving a decree that limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and another that created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president.
In recent months, opposition leaders demanded the he step down, arguing that his term legally ended in February 2021. Moise and supporters maintained that his term began when he took office in early 2017, following a chaotic election that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap.
Haiti was scheduled to hold general elections later this year.