In a possible change of course, the White House has now said that it is still reviewing Haiti’s request for U.S. military support to stabilize the country after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday’s press conference that the request of Haiti’s interim government for U.S. troops to the country is still under review as Washington leaders chart the best path for the U.S. to follow.
When asked if the White House had ruled out sending troops, she replied “no.”
This contrasted with an earlier report when a senior Washington official told reporters that “[There are] no plans to provide U.S. military assistance at this time.”
The interim government of Haiti formally requested from the United States and United Nations to send peacekeeping forces into the country to protect vital key infrastructure following the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise last week.
“We definitely need assistance and we’ve asked our international partners for help,” interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told the AP in an interview Friday. “We believe our partners can assist the national police in resolving the situation.”
Saying his administration is “closely watching” the events unfolding in Haiti, President Joe Biden stated, “The people of Haiti deserve peace and security, and Haiti’s political leaders need to come together for the good of their country.”
The Political Future of Haiti Is Uncertain, US Says
On Sunday, the White House dispatched an interagency delegation to Haiti with officials from the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and State, and National Security Council (NSC).
“The delegation reviewed the security of critical infrastructure with Haitian government officials and met with the Haitian National Police, who [is] leading the investigation into the assassination,” NSC spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.
The delegation also met with three different Haitian political leaders who are all laying claim to power in the aftermath of the assassination. These include acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph and Prime Minister-Designate Ariel Henry, as well as Senate President Joseph Lambert.
The purpose of the meetings was “to encourage open and constructive dialogue to reach a political accord that can enable the country to hold free and fair elections,” Horne added.
The U.S. delegation returned to Washington on Monday and reported their findings to President Biden. “What was clear about their trip is that there is a lack of clarity about the future of political leadership,” Psaki added in her press conference.
“It was a reminder of how vital it is for Haiti’s leaders to come together to chart a united path forward,” Psaki said. “We will remain in close touch with law enforcement, with individuals in Haiti, with a range of leaders in Haiti about how we can assist and provide assistance moving forward.”
One of the Men Arrested Was a Former DEA Informant
While the circumstances surrounding the death of the president remain murky, it was released on Monday that one of the three Haitian-Americans arrested in the assassination was once an informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). An unnamed DEA official, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, said that the unnamed suspect was once an informant for the agency, but was not an active informant at the time of the assassination.