Haiti’s Acting Prime Minister confirms request for US troops in the country

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haiti’s interim government said on Friday it had asked the United States to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure as it tries to stabilize the country and prepare the way to the elections the day after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

“We really need help and we have asked for help from our international partners,” Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press in an interview, declining to provide further details. “We believe that our partners can help the national police to resolve the situation. “

Joseph said he was appalled by opponents who tried to use the murder of Moses to seize political power – an indirect reference to a group of lawmakers who declared their loyalty and recognized Joseph Lambert, the leader of the Senate dismantled from Haiti, as provisional president and Ariel Henry, whom Moïse appointed as prime minister the day before his assassination, as prime minister.

“I’m not interested in a power struggle,” Joseph said in the brief telephone interview, without mentioning Lambert by name. “There is only one way for people to become president in Haiti. And that goes through the elections.

Joseph spoke just hours after the Colombian police chief said the Colombians involved in the murder of Moses were recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean nation in two groups via the Dominican Republic. . Meanwhile, the United States has said it will send senior FBI and Homeland Security officials to help with the investigation.

Haitian National Police Chief Léon Charles said 17 suspects were arrested in the brazen murder of Moses that stunned a nation already reeling from poverty, widespread violence and political instability.

As the investigation progressed, the murder took on the appearance of a complicated international plot. Besides the Colombians, among those detained by the police were two Haitian Americans, who were described as translators for the attackers. Some of the suspects were arrested during a raid on the Taiwanese embassy where they reportedly sought refuge.

During a press conference in Bogota, the Colombian capital, General Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia said that four companies had been involved in the “recruitment, assembly of these people” involved in the assassination, although he did not failed to identify the companies because their names were still Under verification.

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Two of the suspects traveled to Haiti via Panama and the Dominican Republic, Vargas said, while a second group of 11 arrived in Haiti on July 4 from the Dominican Republic.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said senior officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security would be sent to Haiti “as soon as possible to assess the situation and how we might be able. to help ”.

“The United States remains engaged and in close consultation with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president,” said Psaki.

Following Haiti’s request for US troops, a senior administration official reiterated Psaki’s earlier comments that the administration was sending officials to assess how it could be most useful, but added that he did not It was not planned to provide military assistance at this time.

The United States sent troops to Haiti following the last presidential assassination in the country, the murder of President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in 1915 at the hands of an angry mob who raided the French embassy where he had taken refuge.

In Haiti, National Police Chief Léon Charles said eight other suspects were still at large and wanted for

Examining magistrate Clément Noël told French-language newspaper Le Nouvelliste that the arrested Haitian Americans, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, said the attackers had initially planned only to arrest Moïse, not to kill him. Noël said Solages and Vincent were acting as translators for the attackers.

The same newspaper quoted Port-au-Prince prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude as saying he had ordered a National Police investigative unit to question all security agents close to Moïse. These include the security coordinator of Moise, Jean Laguel Civil, and Dimitri Hérard, head of the general security unit of the National Palace.

“If you are responsible for the president’s security, where have you been? What did you do to avoid this fate for the president? said Claude.

The attack, which took place at Moïse’s home before dawn on Wednesday, also seriously injured his wife, who was airlifted to Miami for treatment.

Joseph assumed the leadership with police and military support and declared a two-week “state of siege”. Port-au-Prince is already on the alert amid the growing power of gangs who have displaced more than 14,700 people just last month as they burned down and ransacked homes in a fight for the territory.

The murder brought the usually bustling capital to a standstill, but Joseph urged the public to return to work.

Vargas pledged Colombia’s full cooperation, and authorities there identified 13 of the 15 Colombians involved in the attack as retired members of the army, 11 captured and two killed. Their rank ranges from lieutenant colonel to soldier.

The commander of the Colombian armed forces, General Luis Fernando Navarro, said they left the institution between 2018 and 2020.

“In the criminal world, there is the concept of murder for remuneration and that is what happened: they hired members of the reserve (of the army) for this purpose and they have to answer criminally for the acts. they committed, ”the retired Colombian army said. General Jaime Ruiz Barrera.

Senior Colombian security officials will travel to Haiti to help with the investigation.

U.S.-trained Colombian soldiers are heavily recruited by private security companies in global conflict zones because of their experience in a decades-long war against left-wing rebels and powerful drug cartels.

The wife of a former Colombian soldier in custody said he was recruited by a security company to travel to the Dominican Republic last month.

The woman, who only identified herself as “Yuli,” told Colombian radio W that her husband, Francisco Uribe, was hired for $ 2,700 a month by a company called CTU to travel to Dominican Republic, where he was told he would provide protection to a few powerful families. She says she last spoke to him at 10 p.m. on Wednesday – almost a day after Moses was murdered – and said he was on call at a house where he and others were staying.

“The next day he wrote me a message that sounded like a farewell,” the woman said. “They were running, they had been attacked. … It was the last contact I had.

The woman said she knew little about her husband’s activities and did not even know he had visited Haiti.

Uribe is under investigation for his alleged role in extrajudicial killings committed by the US-trained Colombian military over a decade ago. Colombian court records show that he and another soldier were accused of killing a civilian in 2008 whom they then attempted to portray as a felony killed in action.

The CTU in question may be CTU Security in Miami-Dade. The company has two addresses listed on its website. One was a closed warehouse with no signs indicating who it belonged to. The other is a simple office under the name of another business where the receptionist says the owner of CTU comes once a week to collect the meal and hold an occasional meeting.

Solages, 35, described himself as a ‘certified diplomatic agent’, children’s advocate and aspiring politician on a now-deleted website for a charity he established in 2019 in South Florida to help residents of his hometown of Jacmel, in southern Haiti. coast.

Solages also said he worked as a bodyguard at the Canadian Embassy in Haiti, and on his Facebook page, which was also deleted after the announcement of his arrest, he featured photos of armored military vehicles. and a photo of him standing in front of an American Flag.

Canada’s Department of Foreign Relations released a statement that did not refer to Solages by name, but stated that one of the men detained for his alleged role in the murder had been “briefly employed as a reserve bodyguard” at its embassy by a private contractor.

Appeals to the association and to Solages associates have gone unanswered. However, a relative in South Florida said Solages had no military training and did not believe he was involved in the murder.

“I feel like my son killed my brother because I love my president and I love James Solages,” Schubert Dorisme, whose wife is Solages’ aunt, told WPLG in Miami.

Taiwan’s embassy in Port-au-Prince said police arrested 11 people who attempted to break and enter on Thursday morning. He gave no details of their identity or the reason for the break-in, but in a statement, the men are described as “mercenaries” and strongly condemn “the cruel and barbaric murder” of Moses.

“As to whether the suspects were involved in the assassination of the President of Haiti, this will have to be investigated by the Haitian police,” Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou told reporters. the Associated Press in Taipei.

Police were alerted by embassy security as Taiwanese diplomats were working from home. Haiti is one of the few countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

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Suárez reported from Bucaramanga, Colombia. Goodman reported from Miami. AP videographer Pierre-Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince and Johnson Lai in Taipei, Taiwan, contributed.


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