Haiti’s murdered president laid to rest as tensions flare

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Haitian National Police stand guard during the final preparations for the funeral of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Cap-Haitien
Haitian National Police stand guard during the final preparations for the funeral of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, July 23, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo

July 23, 2021

By Dave Graham and Andre Paultre

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (Reuters) -Pallbearers in military attire carried late Haitian President Jovenel Moise’s body in a closed wooden coffin as his funeral got underway on Friday, two weeks after he was shot dead at home in an assassination still shrouded in mystery.

The pallbearers placed the polished casket on a dais garlanded with flowers. A Roman Catholic priest blessed the coffin and a Haitian flag was unfurled.

Foreign dignitaries were flying to Cap-Haitien from around the Americas to pay their respects to Moise, joining mourners who have taken part in a series of commemorations in Haiti this week.

Moise was gunned down in his home in Port-au-Prince on the night of July 6-7, setting off a political crisis in the Caribbean country already struggling with poverty and lawlessness.

Protests by angry supporters of Moise convulsed the slain leader’s hometown for a second successive day on Thursday as workers labored in preparation for the funeral.

Laborers set up stages, lights and paved a brick road to Moise’s mausoleum on a dusty plot of several acres enclosed by high walls in the northern city of Cap-Haitien.

Elsewhere in the city, protesters set tires on fire to block roads on Thursday afternoon.

Set on land held by Moise’s family and where he lived as a boy, the partly built tomb stood in the shade of fruit trees, just a few steps from a mausoleum for Moise’s father, who died last year.

A former banana exporter, Moise failed to quell gang violence that surged under his watch and he faced waves of street protests over corruption allegations and his management of the economy.

Demonstrators in Cap-Haitien vented anger over the many questions that remain unanswered over the assassination, which the government said was carried out by a team of largely Colombian mercenaries.

Banners celebrating Moise festooned buildings along the narrow streets of Cap-Haitien’s old town, with proclamations in Creole including, “they killed the body, but the dream will never die,” and “Jovenel Moise – defender of the poor.”

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Daina Beth Solomon, Michael Perry and Giles Elgood)