Haiti needs international support to investigate president's assassination: Michaëlle Jean

Former governor general Michaëlle Jean, who was born in Haiti, says the inquiry into the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse will require international support because the Caribbean country's national police service has been infiltrated by criminal organizations.

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his home overnight Wednesday

'Who in the country was capable of sponsoring and organizing such a criminal operation?': Michaëlle Jean

1 year ago
Duration 11:20
Former governor general Michaëlle Jean, who hails from Haiti, joined Power & Politics Thursday to discuss the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and what it means for the future of the Caribbean nation.

The investigation into the assassination of Haiti's president will require international support because the country's national police service has been infiltrated by criminal organizations, says former governor general of Canada Michaëlle Jean.

"I think the police itself, the national police itself, has been so much infiltrated by ... criminal organizations that it will take some help coming from an independent party, foreign support, to carry out this investigation," Jean, who was born in Haiti, told CBC News Network's Power & Politics Thursday.

There seems to be little evidence at this point that the attackers faced much resistance from Haitian President Jovenel Moïse's security team — a detail Jean said warrants investigation.

"Who in the country was capable of sponsoring and organizing such a criminal operation? Who had enough influence actually to make sure that there would be no resistance from the security detail on the scene?" Jean told host David Cochrane. "Because, indeed, nothing seemingly stood in their way."

When asked who she thought could have been behind the operation, Jean said she wouldn't name any names.

"But let me tell you, it's something incredible and it shows that some criminal organizations but also some incredible support were at work to organize this, definitely," she said.

Haitian officials said Moïse was killed overnight Wednesday by a squad of highly-trained gunmen, some speaking Spanish and English.

Most of Haiti's population speaks French or Haitian Creole.

President Jovenel Moise, center, walks with first lady Martine Moise, left, and interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph, right, during a ceremony marking the 218th anniversary of the creation of the Haitian flag, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Joseph Odelyn/The Associated Press)

Haiti's Minister of Elections Mathias Pierre told the Associated Press Thursday that two of the six people arrested in connection with the assassination are Haitian Americans — one of them reportedly a former body guard at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince.

Citing video footage the government says it has in its possession, Haiti's ambassador to the U.S. told Reuters Wednesday that the gunmen falsely identified themselves as agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

First Lady Martine Moïse was also shot and wounded in the attack. She has been flown to Florida, where she is said to be in critical but stable condition. Their children are said to be safe.

'The erosion of trust is total'

Moïse's assassination has plunged the Caribbean nation further into chaos and uncertainty.

Inflation and gang violence had been spiralling out of control under Moïse's leadership. Moïse had been ruling by decree for more than a year amid allegations of corruption and a political dispute over when his presidential term truly ended.

"The country is appalled. You can sense how much the air is filled with anxiety," said Jean. "We talk about a population that is completely drained, overwhelmed. People have simply endured too much."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Haiti's President Jovenel Moise as he arrives for an official welcoming ceremony at the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, on June 9, 2018. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Jean said Moïse was a "president who placed himself above the law" and was in "cahoots" with gangs. 

In the wake of his assassination, Jean said, Haiti's opposition parties and civil society organizations are facing "the urgent need to save the nation."

"There must be dialogue. Something that will actually bring a coalition government to organize elections based on the rule of law and democracy. And for that dialogue to happen, of course, countries — allies who want to see democracy back and better in Haiti — must be there to ease this dialogue because it is so necessary," said Jean.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the assassination Wednesday.

"We are shocked and saddened to hear of the horrific assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and the attack on First Lady Martine Moïse of Haiti.  We condemn this heinous act, and I am sending my sincere wishes for First Lady Moïse's recovery," said Biden in a media statement.

"Our two countries are united by a strong friendship, built on enduring people-to-people ties. Canada has a deep and longstanding commitment to Haiti, and we are ready to offer any assistance it needs," said Trudeau in a media statement.

The UN special envoy for Haiti said Thursday that interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph will lead the Caribbean nation until an election is held.

A first round of parliamentary and presidential elections is slated for Sept. 26, with a second round set to take place sometime in November.

Joseph told The Associated Press that he supports an international investigation into the assassination.

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters