Haiti Government Arrest 23 Over Alleged Coup Plot
Haitian authorities have detained twenty-three people, including a Supreme Court judge, for their role in an alleged plot to overthrow President Jovenel Moise.
Announcing the arrests on Sunday, Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe told a news conference that a senior police official was also among those taken into custody, alongside money, guns and ammunition.
“These people had contacted national palace security officials, high-ranking officers of the national palace whose mission was to arrest the president… and also to facilitate the installation of a new president,” Mr. Jouthe said.
President Moise, speaking later at the Port-Au-Prince airport on his way to launch the annual carnival in the coastal town of Jacmel, said the plotters’ aim was to make an “attempt on my life”.
Sunday’s arrests come after leading opposition figures announced a plan to replace Mr. Moise with a new head of state, accusing the president of being authoritarian and presiding over economic chaos.
Anti-government demonstrators in the national capital, Port-Au-Prince, had earlier clashed with police, who responded with tear gas. There were also street protests against Mr. Moise in some other towns.
According to the opposition plan, members of civil society and opposition leaders were to pick a new president from one of the sitting Supreme Court judges, instead of waiting for general elections scheduled for September.
Mr. Moise, who has ruled the small Caribbean island-nation by decree since mid-January, has said he would hand over power to the winner of the elections, but would not step down until his term expires on February 2, 2022.
He has also put in place plans to hold a referendum on amending Haiti’s constitution in April, with the opposition voicing concerns the vote will neither be free nor fair and could give Mr. Moise too much power.
Haiti, a former colony of France, has remained a trouble-spot since gaining independence in the mid-19th-century. The latest coup plot there has only but exacerbated its lingering political tensions, in addition to its status as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.