18:02 GMT24 July 2021
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    Mathias Pierre, Haiti's minister of elections, announced Friday that the Haitian government had requested the US to deploy troops to the island nation to protect key infrastructure after the Biden administration offered the country aid in the wake of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse earlier this week.

    Earlier, both US and Haitian officials told reporters they could not confirm whether such a request had been made or not, but on Friday afternoon Pierre told the New York Times that “urban terrorists” like those who shot the president to death in his home on Wednesday posed a continuing danger to civil assets.

    “The group that financed the mercenaries want to create chaos in the country,” he said. “Attacking the gas reserves and airport might be part of the plan.”

    The troops would also be asked to protect Haiti's port, airport, and energy facilities.

    Pierre later told CNN the request was for a limited number of troops - approximately 500.

    The Pentagon declined to comment on the request, instead directing Sputnik to the Department of State, which has not answered a request for comment. A senior US official told Reuters “there are no plans to provide US military assistance at this time."

    Reuters also revealed on Friday that a letter from Haiti to the United Nations requested a deployment of international troops "to support the efforts of the national police aiming to restablish security and public order in the whole territory," including defending infrastructure.

    The letter is dated July 7 - the day Moïse was killed.

    On Thursday, Edmond Bocchit, Haiti's ambassador to the US, told France 24 that that the Haitian National Police (PNH) had been "overwhelmed and facing well-armed gangs" and welcomed any assistance that would allow the restoration of orderly life.

    "Now we need help: it's very important to say that, we cannot hide it," Bocchit said. However, he added that they had "not been discussing" the deployment of US forces to the country, which is about 600 miles southeast of Florida.

    Earlier on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a regular briefing that the US was dispatching federal officers from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Haiti "in response to a specific request," as well as $5 million for the PNH.

    The PNH said Friday they had captured 19 members of the 28-man commando that assaulted Moïse's house posing as US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers. Two of the men were Americans and 17 were Colombians; the rest of the commando had been killed in a shootout. However, it has since said that it is in pursuit of six more people.

    Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph has declared himself to be the country's interim ruler until elections can be organized, which are expected to occur in September and November. However, some Haitians have not backed him because the day before his death, Moïse appointed Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon, to replace him. The US, United Nations, and other international bodies have recognized Joseph's claim, which Bocchit explained was due to Henry not having had time to organize a new government.

    Joseph has enacted a two-week state of emergency and given police wide-ranging powers to track down Moïse's killers.

    In the US press, the editorial boards of several major newspapers have penned pro-interventionist articles in recent days.

    The Washington Post's editorial board wrote on Wednesday evening that "Haiti needs swift and muscular international intervention," arguing that "the hard truth, at this point, is that organizing them and ensuring security through a campaign and polling, with no one in charge, may be all but impossible."

    On Thursday, the Miami Herald's editors argued the US must "get off the sidelines and act" because of the precarious mandate given to Joseph, the lack of a sitting parliament, and the recent untimely death of the chief of the Supreme Court from COVID-19.

    "All of this adds up to one thing: The United States, which has been content to stay mostly quiet on Haiti in both the Trump administration and the Biden administration, will have to get off the sidelines - immediately," the Herald wrote.

    The US has a long history of military interventions in Haiti, including a 19-year military occupation and puppet government from 1915 to 1934 which similarly followed the killing of a Haitian head of state - President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam - and which resulted in the theft of Haiti's entire national gold reserve and the deaths of 15,000 Haitians under the regime. More recently, US Marines were dispatched in 2004 in what amounted to a coup d'etat that removed leftist President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office.

    Related:

    From Victim to Villain: Mixed Feelings in Haiti After President's Assassination
    US to Send Senior FBI, DHS Officials to Haiti to Investigate President Moïse Assassination
    Perpetrators Prepared Haiti President's Murder for Over Month, Colombian Police Say
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    assassination, proposed deployment, US troops, Haiti
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