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Haiti prepared on Thursday to bury its assassinated president under tight security, just over two weeks after his assassination further shook a country mired in poverty, corruption and political instability and sparked long-lasting racial tensions among the population.
Jovenel Moise, who was 53 when he was shot dead in his home on the early morning of July 7, will be buried Friday in Cap-Haïtien, the main town in his native region in the north.
The town was quiet on Thursday, but clashes broke out the day before when Police Chief Leon Charles paid a visit. He was booed and interviewed while inspecting the security arrangements for the funeral.
Local residents blamed the police chief for failing to protect Moise, whose wife Martine was seriously injured in the gun attack, apparently carried out by a group of mostly Colombian retired soldiers – with no injuries to the presidential guard.
More than 20 people so far have been arrested, most of them Colombians, and the police say the plot was organized by Haitians with ties outside the country and political ambitions.
But the case remains murky, with many unanswered questions.
Haitians have expressed shock that those charged with protecting the president and his home failed so abnormally. The impoverished Caribbean nation is riddled with crime and powerful gangs – problems that only got worse under Moise’s rule.
His death has rekindled long-standing tensions between northern Haiti and the west, where Port-au-Prince is located. Some have even erected barricades on roads leading to Cap-Haïtien to prevent people from the capital from attending the funeral.
“We will do everything we can to honor him in the way he deserves, in accordance with his importance to our city,” said Mayor Yvrose Pierre of Cap-Haïtien.
A Catholic mass was held for Moise on Thursday at the city’s cathedral, followed by a procession in his honor.
“His murder made me very sad. I prayed for his soul. I’ve prayed that justice will be done,” said a woman standing by the cathedral, giving only her first name, Carine.
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