Haiti’s president alleges coup conspiracy; 20 arrested

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“There was an attempt on my life,” he said.

Moïse said the alleged plot began on Nov. 20 but did not provide further details or any evidence except to say among the people arrested is a judge and an inspector general with the police. Moïse then said other high-ranking officials would provide more information but they all walked away and did not speak further to reporters.

Opposition leaders could not be immediately reached for comment.

Reynold Georges, an attorney who once worked as a consultant for Moïse’s administration but has since joined the opposition, denounced the arrests in an interview with radio station Zenith FM.

“We ask for his release immediately,” he said of Irvikel Dabresil, the Supreme Court judge who is being detained, adding that the court system should shut down until he’s free.

Georges also called on people to rise up against Moïse.

Also arrested was Police General Inspector Antoinette Gauthier, according to a statement from the Young Bar Association of Port-au-Prince, which accused Moïse’s administration of sowing terror and said Sunday’s actions should not be tolerated.

The arrests come on the day that opposition leaders claim Moïse should resign, saying that his term ends on Sunday. Moïse has repeatedly stated that his five-year term ends in February 2022. Former President Michel Martelly’s term ended in 2016, but a chaotic election forced the appointment of a provisional president for one year until Moïse was sworn in in 2017.

The opposition has organized recent protests demanding that Moïse step down, and normally congested streets in Haiti’s capital and elsewhere remained empty on Sunday as a handful of demonstrators burned tires.

Meanwhile, Moïse appears to have the support of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Ned Price, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said Friday that the U.S. has urged Haiti to organize free and fair elections so that Parliament can resume operations, adding that a new elected president should succeed Moïse when his terms ends in February 2022.

Moïse is currently ruling by decree after dissolving a majority of Parliament in January 2020 after no legislative elections were held. He is planning an upcoming constitutional referendum in April that critics say could award him more power, while general elections are scheduled for later this year.

AP writer Dánica Coto contributed from San Juan, Puerto Rico

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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