President Jovenel Moise’s body arrived at his hometown on Friday for a private burial accompanied by tight security following violent protesters and fears of the country’s political instability. The body was carried in a brown coffin up a stage by six officials, where they saluted it and stood for some minutes in silence before wrapping a large Haitian flag over it.
The former first lady, Martine Moise, cried for justice as she went straight to her husband’s coffin. She climbed up the stage and stood in front of the casket with her right hand in an arm sling, laying her other hand on it. She took the coffin to her heart and stood there quietly. Her eyes were full of tears as her three kids followed her.
A group of Moise’s supporters paraded with a large picture of the president as the police band started to play the national anthem. As the funeral started, protesters fought with police outside the president’s private home. Black smoke spread all over as gunshots and teargas flared up. Protester’s cries caught the attention of religious leaders at the ceremony.
Previously, “Assassin!” yellings were heard when Leon Charles, head of Haitian Police, arrived. Haitians wearing dark suits, shiny shoes, and black and white dresses shouted, pointing fingers at the near seating section where Haitian leaders and foreign VIPs sat guarded by men with strong weapons. “You didn’t take any action to save Jovenel! You took part in his murder!” one lady shouted.
One of Moise’s supporters threatened the head of Haitian Police: “You need to leave now, or we will come after you after the funeral!” Newly elected Prime Minister Ariel Henry arrived later after the cries of justice for Moise. Moise’s supporters were given T-shirts and caps decorated with his picture the day before the final ceremony.
Before the ceremony began, a man covered himself in a sizeable Haitian flag, walked towards the casket, shouting, “We need to fight and get justice for Jovenel!” A man with a T-shirt showing respect for Moise joined him as he cried out, “Jovenel died big! He died for me and the entire country. We are going to back down.”
The funeral happens days after a new Prime Minister was appointed with support from prominent foreign diplomats. The appointment of Henry seemed to aim at preventing further leadership struggle after President Moise’s murder. He replaced interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph.