Haitian President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in an attack on his private residence, the country’s interim prime minister said in a statement Wednesday, calling it a “hateful, inhumane, and barbaric act." First Lady Martine Moise was hospitalized following the overnight attack, interim Premier Claude Joseph said. The nation of more than 11 million people had grown increasingly unstable and disgruntled under Moise, the AP reports. "The country’s security situation is under the control of the National Police of Haiti and the Armed Forces of Haiti," Joseph said in a statement from his office. "Democracy and the republic will win." Joseph said police have been deployed to the National Palace and the upscale community of Pétionville and will be sent to other areas. He said some of the attackers spoke in Spanish but offered no further explanation.
Moise, who was 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. (Read more Haiti stories.)