President Jovenel Moise of Haiti has been assassinated.
According to a statement from the office of Claude Joseph, interim prime minister of Haiti, Moise was killed overnight at his private residence.
“He was fatally wounded by a group of unidentified men, some of whom were speaking Spanish,” the statement said.
Gunmen were said to have broken into Moise’s residence at about 1am on Wednesday.
His supporters and opponents are embroiled in a bitter dispute over when his term began and when it will end.
In Haiti, presidential terms last for five years and always begin on February 7, after elections.
The country’s presidential election in October 2015, in which Moise was elected in the first round, was annulled because of fraud. A year later, he was declared the winner in the second round of the repeat election and was finally sworn in on February 7, 2017.
The opposition had argued that Moise’s five-year term should have ended on February 7, 2021, but the late president had insisted that he had one more year to serve as he did not take office until February 2017.
Amid accusation of corruption, the opposition had said Moise was on his way to becoming a dictator.
They alleged that the president’s handling of the country has led to a surge in violent gang crimes and kidnappings as well as worsening living standards in Haiti.
The late president was also blamed for the postponement of the country’s legislative elections from October 2019 to October 2021, which has left the nation without a parliament.