Haitian president assassination suspects include US citizens

Sebastian Hughes, DCNF

Two suspects arrested by authorities for the assassination of Haiti’s president are U.S. citizens, the Associated Press reported.

James Solages and another unnamed Haitian-American were arrested Thursday in the aftermath of Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s murder, Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s minister of elections, told the AP.

Officials described the pair as being a part of “a highly trained and heavily armed group.” Four other suspected assailants have been killed, while two more remain missing, the AP reported.

Solages established a charity in 2019 and is described as a “certified diplomatic agent” on its website. It also says that Solages previously worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian embassy in Haiti, according to the AP.

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

The two U.S. citizens were found hiding in bushes in Port-au-Prince on Thursday, according to witnesses, the AP reported. When the police arrived, they were put into the back of a pickup truck and driven away, the AP reported.

The crowd allegedly began following the vehicle, with some chanting, “They killed the president! Give them to us. We’re going to burn them!,” according to the AP. One man was reportedly overheard saying it was unacceptable for foreigners to enter the country and kill Haiti’s leader.

Several abandoned vehicles with bullet holes that were thought to belong to the suspects were set on fire by the crowd, the AP reported. Charles asked for calm and for people to go home while at a news conference Thursday, warning that authorities needed the cars as evidence.

Prime Minister Claude Joseph assumed the leadership of the country with the support of the military and police, according to the AP. The Haitian constitution states that Moise should be replaced by the president of Haiti’s Supreme Court, who died of COVID-19 recently, the AP reported.

“There is this void now, and they are scared about what will happen to their loved ones,” Marlene Bastien, executive director of Family Action Network Movement, a group that helps people in Miami’s Little Haiti community, told the AP. She advised that President Joe Biden play a strong role in supporting efforts for a national dialogue, so that fair and free elections could take place.

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