Mourners and dignitaries, including a US delegation, rushed to take cover amid reports of gunfire and tear gas outside the Friday funeral of the late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
No injuries were immediately reported after hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the private ceremony. Gunshots erupted and tear gas and black smoke flooded the event. Shouts from protesters focused on religious leaders speaking at the funeral.
Earlier, Moses’ widow, Martine, arrived with cries of “Justice! Justice! ”With her right arm in a sling from the injuries she suffered in the attack that killed her husband, she laid her left arm on the coffin and then brought it back to her heart as she stood in silence.
Cries of “Assassin!” »Filled the air when the chief of the Haitian national police, Léon Charles arrived. Mourners dressed in dark suits, shiny shoes, and black and white evening gowns shouted and pointed at nearby seating platforms where Haitian officials and foreign dignitaries sat above at least a dozen men with powerful weapons.
“You took no action to save Jovenel!” You contributed to his murder! a woman cried.
A supporter of Moses threatened Charles: “You have to leave now or we will have you after the funeral!”
The newly appointed Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, subsequently arrived at the cries of “Justice for Jovenel! “
White t-shirts and caps featuring the photo of Moses were distributed to supporters the day before what is expected to be the final ceremony in honor of the president, who was shot several times on July 7 in an attack at his private home which seriously injured his wife. , Martine.
“It is something that will remain etched in our memory,” said Pedro Guilloume, a resident of Cap-Haitien who hoped to attend the funeral. “May all Haitians channel solidarity. “
Moses’ body arrived shortly after dawn at his family’s beach property, where the funeral took place. Six officials carried the brown coffin to a stage where they greeted it and stood before it in silence for several minutes before covering it with a large red and blue Haitian flag.
The funeral comes days after Henry, with the backing of key international diplomats, was installed in Haiti – a move that appeared to be aimed at avoiding a leadership struggle after Moïse’s assassination.
Henry, who was appointed Prime Minister by Moses before he was killed but was not sworn in until after, replaced Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph and pledged to form a provisional consensus government until the elections.
On Thursday, violent protests hit neighborhoods in Cap-Haïien as groups of men fired shots in the air and blocked some roads with burning tires. A heavily guarded police convoy carrying unknown officials passed through a burning barricade, with one vehicle nearly overturning.
Moïse was sworn in as President of Haiti in February 2017 and has come under increasing criticism in recent years from those who accused him of becoming increasingly authoritarian. He had ruled by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold legislative elections.
Authorities said at least 26 suspects were arrested in the murder, including 18 former Colombian soldiers. Police are still looking for several other suspects involved in the assassination plot, including a former rebel leader and a former senator.