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 earlier this week.

“We definitely need assistance and we’ve asked our international partners for help,” interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press (AP) in an interview Friday. “We believe our partners can assist the national police in resolving the situation.”

Haiti is currently in a state of turmoil and teeters closer to chaos.

Yet, the U.S. government rejected the request. “[There are] no plans to provide U.S. military assistance at this time,” a senior U.S. official said.

Washington is, nevertheless, sending a team of FBI investigators and Homeland Security officials to assist with the ongoing investigation into the assassination.

“Making sure we are providing resources, in terms of woman and manpower, but also financial resources, is part of what our objective is as well,” the White House spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said.

Two Americans Arrested in Relation to the Assassination

Among the 17 men captured following Moise’s murder are two Haitian-Americans identified as James Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, both from Florida. Eight men remain at large.

Most of the 26 people that so far are known to be involved in the assassination are retired Colombian soldiers. 

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, line up at Port-au-Prince airport Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Wikipedia)

According to a Haitian judge, the two Americans were not in the room where the assassination took place, but were acting as translators. The two claim that they were duped into taking part in the killing. Solages told Haitian investigators he had applied on the internet for a job as an interpreter for “foreigners” whose names he claimed he didn’t know.

They believed that they were executing a legal order, authorized by a judge, to arrest the president. During the attack, Solages told the president’s guards that the men were from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and ordered them to stand down. Once they discovered the president had been assassinated they handed themselves in.

“They said they turned themselves in because they did not feel like they had a choice,” Noël, an investigating judge who interrogated the two Haitian-Americans, said to the Washington Post. “They did not have a mission to kill the president. When they realized that things had changed, they brought themselves to the police.”

In a statement after the assassination of Moise on Wednesday, President Joe Biden said that the U.S. stood “ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti.”

A Political Standoff

Haiti has been plunged into chaos after the murder of Moise, with different factions vying for control of the government.  Prime Minister Claude Joseph was supposed to be replaced by Ariel Henry, whom President Moise had selected the day before he was assassinated.

Henry didn’t have the opportunity to take office. Nevertheless, several lawmakers from the dismantled senate endorsed Henry as prime minister and recognized Joseph Lambert, the former head of the senate, as the provisional president. This is a direct challenge to Joseph and the provisional government’s authority.

Prime Minister Joseph insisted that he isn’t interested in a power struggle but did take the reins of the government with the backing of both the police and military. “There’s only one way people can become president in Haiti. And that’s through elections,” he said.

The question that remains now is who ordered the hit on Moise.

The deceased president had no shortage of enemies. He had dissolved the parliament in 2019 after the elections had been suspended. He was fighting corruption but many in Haiti believed that he had amassed too much power.