September 23, 2023

Haitian citizens hold up their passports as they gather outside the U.S. embassy in Tabarre, Haiti, on July 10, 2021, seeking asylum after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, explaining that there is too much uncertainty in the country and them for their fear of life. Publicity.

Valerie Bäriswyl | AFP | Getty Images

Five days after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, a delegation of US officials is in Haiti to assess the political and security situation in the Caribbean country amid new reports that one of the suspected masterminds has been arrested.

The White House confirmed Monday that a delegation of officials from the National Security Council and Homeland Security, State and Justice departments had met with Haiti’s interim leaders and the national police to respond to their requests for security assistance and the investigation on Moise’s murder.

The U.S. delegation arrives after White House officials told NBC News on Friday that the U.S. has no plans to deploy troops to protect critical infrastructure, amid reports Haitian officials asked for such assistance. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said over the weekend the Department of Defense is looking into the Haitian request for troops, but the US is mainly focused on the investigation.

“I don’t know if we are now at a point where we can definitely say that what is happening there is putting our national security at risk,” Kirby told Fox News on Sunday. “But of course we value our Haitian partners. We value stability and security in this country.”

The US delegation met with Haiti’s interim leaders to promote free and fair elections, National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a White House press release. U.S. and Haitian officials also checked the security of the country’s critical infrastructure, Horne said.

“In all of their meetings, the delegation has pledged to support the Haitian government in its pursuit of justice in this case and to reaffirm the United States’ support for the Haitian people at this difficult time,” said Horne.

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The arrival of the US delegation follows the arrest of a Haitian who is reportedly a prime suspect in the Moise murder at his private residence in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday.

Haitian police said Christian Emmanuel Sanon, 63, entered Haiti on a private plane “with the intention of assuming the Haitian presidency.” Sanon has been described as having played a pivotal role in the assassination, with Haitian police finding that he was the “first person the attackers called” after the president was shot dead.

The New York Times and the Miami Herald reported that Sanon is a doctor in Florida. CNBC has reached out to Haitian authorities and the US State Department for comment.

On Friday, the State Department confirmed that two US citizens were arrested by Haitian police after the attack, but declined to comment.

Haitian police on Friday identified the American suspects as James Solages and Joseph Vincent, both of Haitian descent. You are among at least 20 suspects arrested by Haitian police so far, along with 18 Colombians.

Moise had faced violent protests for months before he was murdered. Opposition leaders accused him of increasing his power even after his term ended in February and called for his resignation.

Opposition leaders and their supporters pointed to Moise’s approval of decrees restricting a court’s powers to review government contracts and creating an intelligence agency that would only report to him. They also opposed his plans to hold a constitutional referendum that would strengthen the presidency in the country.