Political leader, lottery owner fatally shot in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Eric Jean Baptiste, a former presidential candidate and leader of a political party in Haiti, has been shot to death, a party official said Saturday. The killing stunned many in a nation already in crisis.

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

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

No one has been arrested.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he and others were revolted by the killing.

“The horrific assassination of the 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 moderate politician committed to change,” he tweeted.

The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti echoed Henry’s sentiments, saying it condemned the killing as it demanded justice and called on local authorities to improve the country’s deepening insecurity.

“Jean Baptiste was a committed politician, serving the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Haiti. His murder constitutes an attack on these fundamental values,” the office said.

The killing occurred in an area where the Ti Makak gang, which means “Little Macaques,” is fighting with the Toto gang for control of territory. The community is located near Pelerin, where President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his private residence in July 2021.

In August, Yvon Buissereth, a former senator who worked for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, was killed and his body set on fire.

In January, two journalists also were killed in Laboule and their bodies set on fire.

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