The U.N.’s top diplomat in Haiti said Thursday that there have been more arrests in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and that police have surrounded a larger group of possible suspects at their hideouts.
“What I have now is that in the last 12 hours, reports have emerged that four members of the group that raided the presidential residence have been killed, while another six are now in police custody,” Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti Helen La Lime told reporters via a video link from Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. “I am also aware that a larger group of possible perpetrators have taken refuge in two buildings in the city, and that they are now surrounded by the police.”
She said she could not confirm that those numbers were the most up-to-date.
On Wednesday, Haitian officials had said four suspects were killed in a shootout with police, while two others they described as “mercenaries,” were arrested.
La Lime briefed the U.N. Security Council in a private meeting following Wednesday’s shocking assassination of President Moïse in an attack that also badly injured his wife, Martine.
La Lime said Haiti’s U.N. envoy, Antonio Rodrigue, asked the council for additional security assistance. The U.N. no longer has a peacekeeping mission on the island, only a political one.
“We should be looking at this assistance. Haiti needs to specify exactly what it is they are after,” she said. “In the meantime, we need to continue to use the technical assistance we have on the ground, maybe render it more dynamic, so that we can call on additional support.”
She said the next two weeks will be critical in making sure the investigation moves forward and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
In a statement late Wednesday, the 15-nation U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the assassination and called for justice. The council also urged all political stakeholders in the country to refrain from any acts of violence or inciting people to violence. The council appealed for calm, restraint and dialogue, and the avoidance of any act that could lead to more instability.
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph says he has taken charge of the country and declared a “state of siege.” Haiti is without a functioning parliament and there are fears the assassination could trigger deepening instability.
La Lime said Joseph has assured the U.N. that his government is committed to dialogue and to continuing the process to hold elections on time. A first round of presidential and parliamentary elections is planned for September 26, and a second round in November.
On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield met with her Haitian counterpart. In a statement, she expressed condolences on the assassination of Haiti’s president and the attack on his wife and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“The United States echoes calls for calm, and we are committed to working together to support democracy, rule of law, and peace in Haiti,” she said.