Mourners and dignitaries, including a US delegation, rushed for cover amid reports of gunfire and tear gas in front of the funeral Friday of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
There were no immediate reports of injuries after hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the private ceremony. Shots exploded and tear gas and black smoke entered the event. Shouts from the protesters reached the religious leaders speaking at the funeral.
Earlier, Moïse’s widow, Martine, came yelling “Justice! Justice! ”Her right arm in a sling from the injuries she sustained in the attack that killed her husband, she put her left arm over the coffin and then brought it to her heart while remaining silent.
Shouts of “Murderer!” filled the air with the arrival of the head of the Haitian national police, Léon Charles. Mourners dressed in shady suits, shiny shoes, and black-and-white formal dresses shouted and pointed to neighboring seating platforms where Haitian officials and foreign dignitaries sat atop at least a dozen men with high-powered weapons.
You did not take any action to save Jovenel! You contributed to his murder! a woman yelled.
A supporter of Moïse threatened Charles: “You have to go now or we will look for you after the funeral!”
The newly appointed prime minister, Ariel Henry, later arrived with shouts of “Justice for Jovenel!”
The day before what is expected to be the final ceremony in honor of the president, who was shot several times on July 7 during an attack on his private home that seriously injured his wife, white T-shirts and caps with the image of Moïse were distributed among the sympathizers. , Martine.
“This is something that will remain etched in our memory,” said Pedro Guilloume, a Cap-Haïtien resident who was hoping to attend the funeral. “May all Haitians channel solidarity.”
Moïse’s body arrived shortly after dawn at her family’s seaside property, where the funeral was held. Six officials carried the brown coffin to a stage where they greeted it and stood in front of it in silence for several minutes before placing a large red and blue Haitian flag over it.
The funeral comes days after Henry, with the support of key international diplomats, was installed in Haiti, a move that appeared to be aimed at preventing a leadership struggle in the wake of Moïse’s assassination.
Henry, who was appointed prime minister by Moïse before he was assassinated but was not sworn in until later, replaced interim prime minister Claude Joseph and vowed to form an interim consensus government until elections are held.
On Thursday, violent demonstrations hit the neighborhoods of Cap Haitien when groups of men fired into the air and blocked some roads with burning tires. A heavily guarded police convoy carrying unknown officials ran through a burning barricade and a vehicle nearly overturned.
Moïse was sworn in as Haiti’s president in February 2017 and has faced mounting criticism in recent years from those who accused him of becoming increasingly authoritarian. He had been ruling by decree for more than a year after the country was unable to hold legislative elections.
Authorities have said that at least 26 suspects have been arrested in the killing, including 18 former Colombian soldiers. Police are still searching for several more suspects who they say were involved in the assassination plot, including a former rebel leader and a former senator.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism