Haiti: shots fired at Moïse’s funeral as protesters clash with police

Mourners and dignitaries including a US delegation rushed for cover amid reports of gunfire and teargas outside the funeral on Friday of late Haitian president Jovenel Moïse.

There were no immediate reports of injuries after hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the private ceremony. Shots erupted and teargas and black smoke wafted into the event. Protesters’ cries carried over religious leaders speaking at the funeral.

Earlier, Moïse’s widow, Martine, arrived to cries of “Justice! Justice!” Her right arm in a sling from the injuries she sustained in the attack that killed her husband, she lay her left arm on the casket and then brought it to her heart as she stood in silence.

Cries of “Assassin!” filled the air at the arrival of Haiti’s national police chief, Léon Charles. Mourners clad in somber suits, shiny shoes and black and white formal dresses shouted and pointed fingers at the neighboring seating platforms where Haitian officials and foreign dignitaries sat above at least a dozen men with high-powered weapons.

“You didn’t take any measures to save Jovenel! You contributed to his killing!” one woman yelled.

One Moïse supporter threatened Charles: “You need to leave now or we’re going to get you after the funeral!”

The newly appointed prime minister, Ariel Henry, arrived afterwards to cries of “Justice for Jovenel!”

White T-shirts and caps emblazoned with Moïse’s picture were distributed to supporters the day before what is expected to be the final ceremony to honor the president, who was shot several times on 7 July during an attack at his private home that seriously injured his wife, Martine.

“This is something that will be engraved in our memory,” said Pedro Guilloume, a Cap-Haïtien resident who hoped to attend the funeral. “Let all Haitians channel solidarity.”

Moïse’s body arrived shortly after dawn at his family’s seaside property, where the funeral was held. Six officials carried the brown casket up to a stage where they saluted it and stood before it in silence for several minutes before draping a large red and blue Haitian flag over it.

The funeral comes days after Henry, with support from key international diplomats, was installed in Haiti – a move that appeared aimed at averting a leadership struggle following Moïse’s assassination.

Henry, who was designated prime minister by Moïse before he was killed but was not sworn in until afterward, replaced the interim prime minister Claude Joseph and has promised to form a provisional consensus government until elections are held.

On Thursday, violent demonstrations hit neighborhoods in Cap-Haïien as groups of men fired shots into the air and blocked some roads with blazing tires. One heavily guarded police convoy carrying unknown officials drove through one flaming barricade, with a vehicle nearly flipping over.

Moïse was sworn in as Haiti’s president in February 2017 and 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 failed 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 looking for several more suspects they say were involved in the assassination plot, including a former rebel leader and an ex-senator.

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