Prominent Haitian Political Figure Assassinated

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HPD) — Eric Jean Baptiste, a former presidential candidate and leader of a political party in Haiti, has been shot dead, a party official said Saturday. No one has been arrested in connection with the attack, which surprised many in an impoverished nation already in crisis.

Baptiste was killed Friday in the Laboule community in the capital Port-au-Prince along with his bodyguard, said Ricardo Nordain, a spokesman for his National Caucus of Progressive Democrats, which was founded in 1979 by former President Leslie Manigat.

Baptiste also owned one of the largest lottery companies in Haiti, “Pere Eternel”.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he and others were outraged by the crime.

“The horrific murder of political leader Eric Jean Baptiste and his bodyguard has once again plunged the Haitian nation into turmoil. We strongly condemn this heinous crime against this patriot, this political moderate committed to change,” he tweeted.

The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti also lamented the murder and demanded justice from the local authorities and to reinforce their forces in the face of the growing insecurity in the country.

“Jean Baptiste was a committed politician, at the service of consolidating democracy and the rule of law in Haiti. The murder of him constitutes an attack on these fundamental values,” according to the office.

The murder occurred in an area where the Ti Makak gang — which means “little macaques” — is fighting the Toto gang for control of territory. The community is close to Pelerin, where President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his private residence in July 2021.

In August, Yvon Buissereth, a former senator working for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, was assassinated and his body burned.

In January, two journalists were also killed in Laboule and their remains were burned.

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