Violence erupts in Haiti as protesters demand answers over president’s assassination before funeral

Violence broke out in Haiti on the eve of the funeral of assassinated President Jovenel Moise as protesters fired rifles and blocked roads with burning tires.

Moise was gunned down at his home in Port-au-Prince earlier this month, sparking a political crisis in the country already struggling with poverty and lawlessness.

The former president, a former banana exporter, failed to quell the gang violence that erupted under his supervision and faced waves of street protests over allegations of corruption and his handling of the economy.

Police officers confront protesters during a day of demonstrations, in Cap-Haïtien on the eve of Jovenel Moise’s funeral

People take part in a day of protests taking place as Haitians pay tribute to assassinated President Jovenel Moise

People take part in a day of protests taking place as Haitians pay tribute to assassinated President Jovenel Moise

The former president failed to quell the gang violence that rose under his watch and faced waves of street protests

The former president failed to quell the gang violence that rose under his watch and faced waves of street protests

Moise (pictured) was shot at his home in Port-au-Prince earlier this month, sparking a political crisis in the country already struggling with poverty and lawlessness

Moise (pictured) was shot at his home in Port-au-Prince earlier this month, sparking a political crisis in the country already struggling with poverty and lawlessness

The former president, a former banana exporter, failed to quell the gang violence that has erupted under his charge

The former president, a former banana exporter, failed to quell the gang violence that has erupted under his charge

Protesters in Cap-Haïtien expressed anger at the many questions that remain unanswered about the July 7 murder, which the government says was carried out by a team of largely Colombian mercenaries.

With hammers, picks and shovels, workers scrambled to set up stages, provide lighting and pave a stone road to the former president’s mausoleum on a dusty several acre parcel of land surrounded by high walls in the northern city of Cap-Haïtien.

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

Built on Moise’s family’s land where he lived as a boy, the partially constructed tomb stood in the shade of fruit trees, just steps from a mausoleum for Moise’s father, who died last year.

Protesters in Cap-Haïtien expressed anger at the many questions left unanswered about the July 7 murder

Protesters in Cap-Haïtien expressed anger at the many questions left unanswered about the July 7 murder

Protesters set fire to tires Thursday afternoon to block roads as demonstrations continue after the president's death

Protesters set fire to tires Thursday afternoon to block roads as demonstrations continue after the president’s death

Police Director-General Leon Charles walks down the street on Thursday after a press conference in Cap-Haïtien

Police Director-General Leon Charles walks down the street on Thursday after a press conference in Cap-Haïtien

The funeral comes days after a new prime minister was installed in Haiti, supported by key international diplomats

The funeral comes days after a new prime minister was installed in Haiti, supported by key international diplomats

Foreign dignitaries fly from across America to Cap-Haïtien to pay their respects to Moise, joining the mourners who took part in a series of memorial services in Haiti this week.

Banners honoring Moise decorated buildings along the narrow streets in the old town of Cap-Haïtien with proclamations in Creole including ‘they have killed the body, but the dream will never die’ and ‘Jovenel Moise – defender of the poor’ .

White T-shirts and caps emblazoned with his photo were distributed to supporters the day before what is expected to be Moise’s final ceremony.

“This is something that will be etched in our memories,” said Pedro Guilloume, a resident of Cap-Haïtien who hoped to attend the funeral. “Let all Haitians channel solidarity.”

The funeral comes days after a new prime minister, supported by key international diplomats, was installed in Haiti – a move that appeared aimed at averting leadership struggles following Moise’s assassination.

Residents come to watch preparations for the burial site of President Jovenel Moise

Residents come to watch preparations for the burial site of President Jovenel Moise

Foreign dignitaries fly from America to Cap-Haïtien to pay their respects to Moise

Foreign dignitaries fly from America to Cap-Haïtien to pay their respects to Moise

Police are still looking for several suspects they believe were involved in the murder plot

Police are still looking for several suspects they believe were involved in the murder plot

Ariel Henry, who was appointed prime minister by Moise before his assassination but never took the oath, has replaced interim prime minister Claude Joseph, promising to form a provisional consensus government until elections are held.

A priest who presided over mass at Cap-Haïtian Cathedral on Thursday morning to honor Moise warned that there was too much bloodshed in Haiti as he asked people to find peace, noting that the poorest communities are being affected.

On Thursday evening, Martine Moise and her three children appeared at a small religious ceremony at a Cap-Haitien hotel where Henry and other government officials offered their condolences.

“They took his life, but they can’t take his memories,” said a priest who presided over the ceremony. “They can’t take his brain. They cannot take his ideas. We are Jovenel Moise.’

Moise was sworn in as President of Haiti in February 2017, and in recent years has come under increasing criticism from those who accused him of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

He ruled by decree for more than a year after the country failed to hold parliamentary elections.

Authorities have said at least 26 suspects have been arrested in the killing, including 18 former Colombian soldiers.

Police are still looking for multiple suspects they believe were involved in the assassination plot, including a former rebel leader and an ex-senator.

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