The body of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise was returned to his hometown Friday for a private funeral amid heavy security following violent protests and fears of political volatility in the Caribbean nation.
Moise’s body arrived shortly after dawn at his family’s seaside property where the funeral is being held.
Six officials carried the brown casket up 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.
His wife, Martine Moise, arrived at her husband’s service in Cap-Haitien to cries of “Justice! Justice!” She was joined by her three children.
As the ceremony began, hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the private residence. Shots erupted and tear gas and black smoke wafted into the ceremony. Protesters’ cries carried over religious leaders speaking at the funeral.
United States Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who led the US presidential delegation to Moise’s funeral, tweeted “We urge everyone to express themselves peacefully and refrain from violence.”
The funeral comes days after Ariel Henry, with support from key international diplomats, was installed in Haiti – a move that appeared aimed at averting a leadership struggle following Moise’s assassination.
Henry, who was designated prime minister by Moise before he was slain, but never sworn in, replaced interim prime minister Claude Joseph, and has promised to form a provisional consensus government until elections are held.
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.
The attack’s plotters disguised the mercenaries as US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, a ruse that helped them enter Moise’s home with no resistance from his security detail, authorities have said. At least one of the arrested men, a Haitian-American, had previously worked as an informant for the DEA.