Protests turns violent ahead of assassinated Haitian leader's funeral

A photograph of Haiti’s assassinated President Jovenel Moise is displayed during a memorial service at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church in the Little Haiti neighbourhood of Miami (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Gunshots rang out in Haiti as supporters of dead President Jovenel Moise blocked roadways and demanded justice, threatening to disrupt his funeral.

In the northern seaside city of Cap-Haitien, a heavily armed police convoy transporting unknown authorities rushed past a barricade of fire tires placed up at the end of a bridge, with one vehicle nearly rolling over as it drove through.

A priest told mourners at a mourning service earlier on Thursday that there is too much blood being spilled in Haiti, as officials warned of additional violence ahead of Mr. Moise's funeral.

The Reverend Jean-Gilles Sem addressed a crowd of dozens of people wearing white T-shirts with Mr. Moise's face on them.

“The killings and kidnappings should come to an end,” he stated. We're exhausted.”

The Mass in Cap-cathedral Haitien's was only half-full, and supporters of Mr. Moise kept interrupting, yelling, and accusing Haiti's elite of assassinating the president.

Outside the church, a guy known as John Jovie stood with a group of men and promised additional violence if wealthy members of the elite from Port-au-Prince showed up for the rituals.

“We ask them not to attend the funeral,” he continued. We'll lop off their heads if they show up. We're going to pull our weapons out of hiding. Moise deserves justice.”

The mayor of Cap-Haitien came at the cathedral with a large security detail, and men armed with high-powered rifles kept guard during the Mass.

Nearby, well-wishers stood in front of a portrait of Mr. Moise and rows of candles whose flames flickered in the hot wind as they signed a blue condolences book set up by the mayor's office adjacent to the church.

Martine Moise and her three children attended a small religious ceremony on Thursday evening, where government officials, including newly installed Prime Minister Ariel Henry, expressed condolences.

It was her first time out in public since landing in Cap-Haitien. She didn't say anything in public.

The Mass took place a day after riots erupted in Quartier-Morin, a neighborhood between Cap-Haitien and Mr. Moise's hometown.

The body of a man was seen by Associated Press journalists during protests organized by armed men who blocked highways with huge boulders and burning tires, according to witnesses.

Authorities are continuing to investigate the July 7 incident at the president's residence, in which he was shot multiple times and his wife was critically injured. A private funeral for Mr. Moise was planned for Friday.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has appointed Daniel Foote, a career Foreign Service officer, as its special envoy for Haiti.

According to US State Department spokesperson Ned Price, Mr. Foote will "engage with Haitian and international partners to facilitate long-term peace and stability and support efforts to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections."

Leon Charles, Haiti's police commissioner, said 26 people have been arrested so far, including three police officials and 18 former Colombian troops.

Authorities have detained but not formally arrested seven more high-ranking police officers as they investigate why no one in the president's security detail was hurt that night.

Publish : 2021-07-23 09:49:00

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