Haiti’s interim PM confirms request for US troops to country

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s interim government said Friday that it asked the U.S. to deploy troops to protect key infrastructure as it tries to stabilize the country and prepare the way for elections in the aftermath of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

“We definitely need assistance and we’ve asked our international partners for help,” Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press in an interview, declining to provide further details. “We believe our partners can assist the national police in resolving the situation.”

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Joseph said that he was dismayed by opponents who’ve tried to take advantage of Moïse’s murder to seize political power — an indirect reference to a group of lawmakers have declared their loyalty and recognized Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti’s dismantled senate, as provisional president and Ariel Henry, whom Moïse designated as prime minister a day before he was killed, as prime minister.

“I’m not interested in a power struggle,” Joseph said in the brief phone interview, without mentioning Lambert by name. “There’s only one way people can become president in Haiti. And that’s through elections.”

Joseph spoke just hours after the head of Colombia’s police said that the Colombians implicated in Moïse’s assassination were recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean nation in two groups via the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, the U.S. said it would send senior FBI and Homeland Security officials to help in the investigation.

Haitian National Police Chief Léon Charles said 17 suspects have been detained in the brazen killing of Moïse that stunned a nation already reeling from poverty, widespread violence and political instability.

As the investigation moved forward, the killing took on the air of a complicated international conspiracy.

Besides the Colombians, among those detained by police were two Haitian Americans, who have been described as translators for the attackers. Some of the suspects were seized in a raid on Taiwan’s Embassy where they are believed to have sought refuge.

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At a news conference in Colombia’s capital of Bogota, Gen. Jorge Luis Vargas Valencia said four companies had been involved in the “recruitment, the gathering of these people” implicated in the assassination, although he did not identify the companies because their names were still being verified.

Two of the suspects traveled to Haiti via Panama and the Dominican Republic, Vargas said, while a second group of 11 arrived in Haiti on July 4 from the Dominican Republic.

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