Two Haitian Americans arrested after Haiti president Jovenel Moïse assassinated

People protest against the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse Credit: AP

Two men have been arrested in connection with the assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, according to a senior official.

Both believed to be Haitian Americans, one of the men is purportedly a former bodyguard at the Canadian Embassy in Port au Prince.

Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s minister of elections, told The Associated Press that James Solages was among six people arrested in the 36 hours since President Jovenel Moïse was shot outside his home.

Four other suspected assailants were killed in a gunfight with police and two are still missing, Pierre said.

Earlier authorities had said seven suspects were killed.

Haiti’s assassinated President Jovenel Moise Credit: Dieu Nallo Chery/AP

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, said the UN was "very concerned" about Haiti.

"What is important is that the international community rally around Haiti to support it in any way we can," Mr Dujarric said.

"For our part, we are calling for calm to ensure that there's no violence, for constitutional continuity - there is a constitution, it is very important that needs to be respected.

"Beyond the political, of course we condemn this abhorrent assassination of the president," he said.

Stephane Dujarric says Haiti is in a 'huge humanitarian crisis'

Mr Dujarric warned "there is a huge humanitarian crisis" in the country and it is important support continues.

Solages describes himself as a "certified diplomatic agent," an advocate for children and budding politician on a website for a charity he established in 2019 in south Florida to assist residents.

"The pursuit of the mercenaries continues," said Léon Charles, director of Haiti’s National Police, in announcing the arrest of suspects.

"Their fate is fixed: They will fall in the fighting or will be arrested."

Witnesses said two suspects were discovered hiding in bushes in Port-au-Prince on Thursday by a crowd, some of whom grabbed the men by their shirts and pants, pushing them and occasionally slapping them.

Military vehicles block the entrance to the neighbourhood where the late Haitian President Jovenel Moise lived Credit: Joseph Odelyn/AP

Police arrived shortly afterward to arrest the men.

Once there, some in the crowd chanted: "They killed the president! Give them to us. We’re going to burn them!"

The crowd later set fire to several abandoned cars riddled with bullet holes that they believed belonged to the suspects.

At a news conference Thursday the police chief asked people to stay calm, go home and let police do their work as he warned that authorities needed evidence they were destroying, including the burned cars.

Officials did not address a motive for the killing, saying only that the attack was carried out by "a highly trained and heavily armed group."

Police stand near a mural featuring assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moise Credit: Joseph Odelyn/AP

Prime Minister Claude Joseph assumed leadership of Haiti with the backing of police and the military and on Thursday asked people to reopen businesses and go back to work as he ordered the reopening of the international airport.

On Wednesday, Joseph decreed a two-week state of siege following Moïse’s killing, which stunned a nation grappling with some of the Western Hemisphere’s highest poverty, violence and political instability.

Inflation and gang violence have spiralled upward as food and fuel grew scarcer in a country where 60% of Haitians earn less than $2 (£1.45) a day.

The increasingly dire situation comes as Haiti is still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 following a history of dictatorship and political upheaval.