France on Wednesday condemned the “cowardly assassination” of Haiti president Jovenel Moise, urging restraint and calm in the Caribbean nation in the wake of his killing.
“All light must be shed on this crime, which takes place in a political and security climate that has severely worsened,” said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
“I urge all those in Haitian politics to act with calm and restraint,” he added.
Moise was assassinated and his wife wounded early Wednesday in a gun attack at their private residence, tipping the impoverished and crisis-hit Caribbean nation into a renewed state of political uncertainty.
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph declared a “state of siege” and said he was now in charge of the country, urging the public to remain calm while insisting the police and army would ensure public order.
As international outrage and shock spread over the killing, the capital Port-au-Prince was quiet early Wednesday with no extra security forces on patrol, witnesses reported.
“The president was assassinated at his home by foreigners who spoke English and Spanish,” Joseph said of the assault that took place around 1:00 am (0500 GMT). “They shot and killed the president, and wounded his wife.”
The president’s wife Martine was being treated at hospital.
Moise had ruled Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, by decree, after legislative elections due in 2018 were delayed in the wake of disputes, including on when his own term ends.
In addition to the political chaos, kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months, reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs in the country.
Haiti also faces chronic poverty and recurrent natural disasters.