Haiti, under high tension, bids farewell to its assassinated president

The Haitians paid Friday July 23 a last tribute under high security to their assassinated president Jovenel Moïse, during a national funeral in a city where violence broke out, illustrating the instability of the country. The solemn ceremony took place in Cap-Haitien, the northern metropolis of Haiti. Mr. Moïse, killed by an armed commando on July 7 at his home in the capital Port-au-Prince, was from the north of the country.

Police officers had been deployed all over the streets but they did not prevent, like the day before, an outburst of aggression. Gunshots even resounded outside the compound where the funeral was taking place, forcing the hasty departure of some participants in clouds of tear gas launched by the police.

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Jovenel Moïse’s coffin, covered with the national flag and the presidential scarf, was exposed on an esplanade, adorned with flowers. The remains were guarded by soldiers from the Haitian armed forces. Martine Moïse, the president’s widow, seriously injured in the attack, was present, her arm in a sling after being treated in a hospital in Florida. Her face crossed out with a mask bearing a photo of her husband, she bowed to her coffin.

Foreign delegations

Representatives of foreign delegations, the diplomatic corps and members of the government had followed one another to offer him their condolences. US President Joe Biden sent a delegation led by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, also including Daniel Foote, the new US envoy for Haiti. They didn’t last forever.

“The presidential delegation is safe and complete after the shots reported during the funeral”White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “The people of Haiti deserve peace, security and a better future”, said Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, back in the United States.

Martine Moise, wife of the former president, pays tribute to her husband during the national funeral, July 23, 2021 in Cap-Haitien.

A battalion paid military honors to the head of state, who was 53 years old, including the presidential anthem, followed by the national anthem. The religious office was headed by five priests. The president’s widow paid tribute to her husband, to the successful entrepreneurial career before entering politics, and lamented his tragic end, “Savagely murdered”, “Abandoned and betrayed”. “What crime have you committed to deserve such punishment? “, asked the grieving wife, wearing a black hat.

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Barricades and burning vehicles

Supporters of Jovenel Moïse are prevented from attending the funeral by the police in Cap-Haitien, July 23, 2021.

The inhabitants of northern Haiti recall that Jovenel Moïse is the fifth head of state from their region to have been killed in the west, where the capital, Port-au-Prince is located. Some accuse the wealthy class of Western Haitians of having carried out these assassinations. This resentment put Cap-Haitien in turmoil on Friday, with roads blocked by barricades and flaming vehicles. Private companies were set on fire. Foreign and local journalists have been assaulted by protesters.

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On Thursday, residents had already erected barricades on the national roads leading to the city in order to prevent the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince from coming to attend the funeral. Ariel Henry, the new prime minister who took office on Tuesday, has promised to bring the assassins of the head of state to justice and to organize presidential and legislative elections demanded by the population and the international community. In the middle of the day, the body of Jovenel Moïse was buried in small groups in the privacy of the gardens of the family residence.

The World with AFP