Haiti: First Lady Moïse mourns late president as Haitians demand justice

4 months ago 3315

Haiti's first lady Martine Moïse made her first public appearance since arriving in the northern coastal city of Cap-Haitien during a small private ceremony in memory of her husband and slain President Jovenel Moïse.

She did not make any public comments.

Newly named Prime Minister Ariel Henry offered his condolences along with other government officials.

Authorities are still investigating the July 7 attack on the president’s home during which Jovenel Moïse was shot dead and Martine Moïse was seriously wounded, but a lot remains unknown.

"All the world is waiting for an answer from us, because if someone or a commando can go inside a president's house to assassinate him, a foreign commando, I mean, who is safe?" questionned Cirian Jean Louis, a priest who officiated during the private ceremony.

Tensions rise in Cap-Haitien

Dozens of people wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with Moïse’s picture attended Mass in the city's Cathedral to pay hommage to the late president.

A priest told mourners at a memorial service Thursday for slain President Jovenel Moïse that too much blood is being shed in Haiti as authorities warned of more violence ahead of his funeral.

The Reverend Jean-Gilles Sem spoke to dozens of people wearing white T-shirts emblazoned with Moïse’s picture.

“The killings and kidnappings should stop,” he said, noting that poor communities are the most affected. “We’re tired.”

Moïse supporters kept interrupting the Mass as they cried out and accused Haiti’s elite of killing the president.

A man who identified himself as John Jovie stood outside the church with a group of men and threatened more violence if wealthy members of the elite from the capital of Port-au-Prince showed up for the ceremonies.

“We ask them not to come to the funeral,” he said. “If they come, we will cut their heads off. We will bring our guns out of hiding. …We want justice for Moïse.”

The mayor of Cap-Haitien arrived at the cathedral with heavy security as men with high-powered weapons stood watch during the entire Mass.

After the Mass, some people signed a blue condolences book that the mayor’s office had set up near the cathedral as well-wishers stood before a portrait of Moïse and rows of candles whose flames flickered in the hot wind.

The Mass was held a day after violence erupted in Quartier-Morin, located between Cap-Haitien and Moïse’s hometown. Associated Press journalists saw the body of a man whom witnesses said was killed during the protests organized by armed men who blocked roads with large rocks and burning tires.

Thirst for Justice

Before the Mass began, several people stood at the entrance and shouted, “Justice for Moïse! Justice for Moïse!”

Inside, dozens of people wore T-shirts that read: “The fight for the ones that are weaker is continuing. Safe journey, President Jovenel Moïse.”

"Will we have justice for our country Haiti? Will it strengthen each time the investigation continues? This time we believe it is necessary that we must find justice for the president (Moise). This crime is visible," resident Francois Sylvestre told an AP reporter.

"The situation is a little bit convoluted here in North Haiti because this is the fifth president that has been killed in office and all five are from the North," added Eddy Salomon a resident of the coastal town.

26 suspects have been arrested by authorities, including three police officers and 18 former Colombian soldiers. Another seven high-ranking police officials have been detained but not formally arrested.

So far, there is still no explanation as to why no one in the president’s security detail was injured the night of the attack.

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