By Dave Graham and Andre Paultre for Reuters / The original text appears here

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Haitian President Jovenel Moise began this year by warning that his country was a land of coups, conspiracy and murder. In the days before he was shot dead in a murky international plot last month, he was telling friends that enemies were out to get him.

“He told me a lot of people were spending a lot of money to murder him,” said a former Haitian senator and close friend of the late president, relating a conversation with Moise the evening of his death. “I told him to stop thinking like that.”

“He said to me: ‘This is reality.'”

Showing Reuters his final text messages with Moise, the politician, who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for his safety, said the president did not identify the plotters.

More than a dozen officials, politicians, diplomats and relatives of Moise spoke to Reuters about the events surrounding his murder. The assassination decapitated a fragile government in a Caribbean country repeatedly convulsed by crisis – now exacerbated by a major earthquake on Aug. 14 – since the overthrow of the Duvalier family dictatorship in 1986.

The conversations painted the 53-year-old president as a man increasingly isolated and in peril toward the end of his life.

Moise supporters described his downfall as the inevitable consequence of a corrupt ruling elite closing ranks against a provincial outsider who dared to help Haiti’s majority poor.

“He was putting things in order. Here, when you put things in order, you die,” said Guy Francois, an ally who served as Moise’s minister of citizenship.

Critics, by contrast, cast Moise as a political novice who lacked the skills to build consensus, drifted towards autocracy and turned a blind eye to gang violence in areas hostile to his administration.

“He was a poor choice from the get-go,” said Salim Succar, a lawyer and onetime aide to Moise’s predecessor and former backer, ex-President Michel Martelly. “He never stood a chance.”

Many saw in his killing a microcosm of institutional rot in Haiti, where government has been hobbled by factional disputes, entrenched inequality, and a dependence on foreign powers still widely viewed as hostile to the country’s very foundation in 1804, when a slave revolt threw off the French colonial yoke.Continue reading

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