Haiti was plunged further into chaos on Friday when the acting interim prime minister was accused of staging a coup, and a third person claimed to be running the country following the assassination of the president.
President Jovenal Moise's murder on Wednesday has thrown the already-teetering country into turmoil, with democratic institutions hollowed out.
Moise had been ruling by decree since January 2020, with only 10 senators left in power and an entirely vacant lower chamber.
On Monday Moise had appointed Ariel Henry, a 71-year-old former minister of interior and respected neurosurgeon, as his latest prime minister.
Henry had not taken up the role by the time Moise was assassinated two days later, and so interim prime minister Claude Joseph has remained in power, with the support so far of the United States and UN.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
POWER STRUGGLE: Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph (left) has seized power of the country, declaring a state of emergency, just days before he was due to be replaced by the country's coronavirus tsar Ariel Henry (right), the man Moise had named as Joseph's successor
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and First Lady Martine are pictured together in 2017. Moïse was riddled with 12 bullet holes and had his eye gouged out during Wednesday's brutal attack, which killed him and seriously injured his wife
Joseph said that as head of the government 'who is still in function', he and other members of the government held a special meeting of Haiti's security apparatus and decided to 'declare a state of siege throughout the entire country'.
The two-week declaration of martial law permits the police and security members to enter homes, control traffic and take special security measures and 'all general measures that permit the arrest of the assassins'.
The decree also forbids meetings meant to incite disorder.
On Friday Patrice Dumont, one of the only 10 senators left in power, accused Joseph of staging a coup, and demanded he hand over to Henry.
'He installed himself,' Dumont told a Haitian radio station, according to The New York Times. 'We cannot accept this.'Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Patrice Dumont, one of only 10 senators left in Haiti, said on Friday that he believes Claude Joseph is unlawfully seizing power
Elections Minister Mathias Pierre said Joseph would keep that role until presidential and legislative elections are held on September 26.
'This is part of the chaos certain people are trying to create in the country,' said Pierre, blaming Joseph's opponents for destabilizing the country.
'For us, this is a second attempt to assassinate the president. We are doing what we have to do to establish stability and prepare for elections.'
Henry's appointment was made unilaterally by Moise, without political agreement - leading many to question its legitimacy.
To further complicate matters, a third person on Friday then claimed to be the legitimate ruler.
Joseph Lambert, head of Haiti's senate, was on Friday nominated to be interim president.
'I was chosen unanimously,' he told The Miami Herald. 'That doesn't add to the conflict.
Joseph Lambert (second from right, pictured with Jovenal Moise and his wife Martine Moise on January 12, 2018) has said that he should be in charge of Haiti
'There is a vacancy and the political force and class, the Organization of American States, the U.N believe there needs to a dialogue initiated with the political actors to bring the country to stability.
'The resolution the Senate vote is clear.
'I am provisional president until the next parliament takes its seat in January 2022.'
The constitution is unclear.
The 1987 version states that if the presidency is vacant for any reason, the country's most senior judge should step in.
The head of Haiti's highest court, René Sylvestre, died of COVID-19 last week.
But in 2012, the Constitution was amended, and the new one directed that the president be replaced by a council of ministers, under the guidance of the prime minister.
Except if, as was the case with Moise, the president was in the fourth year of office.
In that case, Parliament would vote for a provisional president. But there is no Parliament.
'Things are unclear,' said Georges Michel, a Haitian historian who helped write the 1987 Constitution.
He told The New York Times: 'It's a very grave situation.'
Earlier on Friday, Haitian officials pleaded with the US to send in military troops amid fears so-called 'urban terrorists' are planning to attack the nation's airport, gas reserves and port.
Pierre warned that the masterminds of Wednesday's assassination of Moise could continue their attack by targeting the nation's critical infrastructure in the coming days.
'The group that financed the mercenaries want to create chaos in the country. Attacking the gas reserves and airport might be part of the plan,' he told the New York Times.
The White House confirmed Friday it was responding to the call for help, drafting in senior officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to the capital Port-au-Prince as soon as possible.
Press secretary Jen Psaki said the US would assess the situation on the ground to see how to best assist and will send in COVID-19 vaccines to the nation as soon as next week.
The US is also providing $5 million to strengthen Haiti's law enforcement capacity to work with communities to resist gangs, Psaki said - something that was a key US priority even before Wednesday's deadly raid.
'The United States remains engaged and in close consultation with our Haitian and international partners to support the Haitian people in the aftermath of the assassination of the president,' she said.
A crowd of residents in Port-au-Prince gathered outside the US Embassy on Friday amid rumors the US will be handing out exile and humanitarian visas to escape the country which has fallen into further turmoil following Wednesday's assassination.
In total, Haiti National Police said there were 28 presumed assassins responsible for Wednesday's raid, with 17 arrested, three dead and eight still at large.
Among the 28 are 26 Colombians and two Haitian-born American citizens.
On Friday a relative of one of the American citizens, James Solages, told The Daily Beast they were shocked, describing him as 'a nice guy'.
No motive has yet been given and officials continue to hunt for the masterminds, while questions are swirling over the possibility of an inside job and the two US citizens arrested allegedly claimed to have only been hired as translators.
Police patrol outside the Embassy of Taiwan in Port-au-Prince where 11 suspected assassins were detained in connection to the murder of the president
Police patrol the Morne Calvaire district of Petion-Ville as they continue to hunt for eight suspected assassins two days on
People gathered in front of the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince Friday amid rumors the US will be handing out exile and humanitarian visas to escape the violence and mayhem in the country
Haiti officials have pleaded with the US to send in military troops amid fears so-called 'urban terrorists' are planning to attack the nation's airport, gas reserves and port as the country teeters on the brink of chaos
The two US citizens among the 17 arrested over the assassination have allegedly claimed they were hired as translators in a plot to arrest the Haitian president but not to kill him.
Haitian-born American citizens Solages, 35, and Joseph Vincent, 55, are said to have confessed to being involved in Wednesday's early morning raid that left Moise dead and his wife fighting for her life.
Vincent allegedly claimed the plot was orchestrated by a foreigner named 'Mike' who spoke English and Spanish, they planned to take Moise to the National Palace and the plot was devised over the course of a month in a hotel in Pétion-Ville.
Deputy justice of the peace Judge Clément Noël told Le Nouvelliste the two men, who both live in Florida, said 'the mission was to arrest President Jovenel Moise, within the framework of the execution of a mandate of an investigating judge and not to kill him.'
Solages said he 'found this job on the internet', Noel told the outlet.
Authorities are now investigating if the plot was an inside job with the president's key security personnel facing interrogation.
Jean Laguel Civil, Moise's security coordinator and Dimitri Hérard, head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace will be questioned.
The two men were among those most responsible for the safety and security of the president.
Haitian Prosecutor Me Bed-Ford Claude said he had seen no casualties among the president's security detail following the assassination.
'They are responsible for the security of the president... I did not see any police victim except the president and his wife. If you are responsible for the security of the president where were you?' he asked.
Hérard is currently under investigation by US officials over allegations he is involved in arms trafficking in Haiti, Haitian and US sources told CEPR.
Officials said they are still looking for the 'intellectual authors' of the plot.
National Police Director Leon Charles said 'we have the physical perpetrators in hand and we are looking for the instigators.'
The remaining 26 suspects are all Colombians with the Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano saying preliminary information points to at least 13 of them being retired members of the country's military.
Colombian officials said Friday the Colombian suspects travelled to the Caribbean nation in two groups by way of the Dominican Republic.
None of the other detainees or those killed have been named.
Suspects in the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise are shown to the media in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Thursday
Weaponry, mobile phones, passports and other items are being shown to the media along with suspects in the assassination
Haitian-born American citizens James Solages, 35, (above) and Joseph Vincent, 55, are said to have confessed to being involved in Wednesday's early morning raid at the president's mansion near Port-au-Prince
The deputy justice of the peace of Pétion-Ville Judge Clément Noël told local paper Le Nouvelliste Solages (pictured) and Vincent - who both live in Florida - told authorities 'they were translators'
Police lined up the 17 assassination suspects, including two American citizens and 15 Colombians, behind a table displaying an array of firearms, machetes, sledgehammers and several Colombian passports
Suspects in the assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise, among them Haitian-American citizens James Solages, left, and Joseph Vincent, second left, are shown to the media at the General Direction of