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Haitian President Moise assassinated at his private residence

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo taken on April 20, 2016, then Haitian presidential candidate Jovenel Moise arrives at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. (By AFP)

Haitian President Jovenel Moise has been assassinated at his private residence.

Gunmen, some speaking Spanish, stormed the private residence at around 1 am local time on Wednesday and fatally injured the president and wounded the First Lady, the office of Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said in a statement.

Joseph has now taken control of the impoverished Caribbean country.

He denounced the “inhumane and barbaric act,” and called for calm, and said the police and the military had taken control of the security situation.

Wednesday’s attack came amid a rising wave of violence in a country divided by a dispute over when the president's term in office ends.

In February, Haitian authorities said they had foiled an attempt to overthrow the government of President Moise.

Back then, Moise said the plotters aimed to kill him, adding that he was "not a dictator,” and that his five-year term in office "ends February 7, 2022.”

The opposition has said Moise’s five-year term should have ended in February 2021.

Moise, 53, took office in 2017 and his term saw fierce protests with the opposition accusing him of corruption and seeking to install a dictatorship by overstaying his mandate.

Moise had been ruling Haiti by decree after the country failed to hold legislative elections in 2018.

Haiti also faces chronic poverty, recurrent natural disasters and a shortage of food.

The country wanted to push through a controversial constitutional reform, aimed at strengthening the executive branch, which was backed by Moise. The reform proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by the opposition and many civil society organizations.

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