The funeral of Haiti’s assassinated president, Jovenel Moise, was disrupted Friday by tear gas used on nearby protesters as well as sounds of gunfire, prompting U.S. officials to leave before the end of the ceremony.
Hundreds of protesters gathered Friday outside the site of the state funeral in the northern city of Cap-Haitien, burning barricades and shouting loudly, causing police to fire tear gas. Protesters were calling for justice for the July 7 assassination of Moise.
Media reports said smoke billowed into the private compound where the funeral was taking place.
There were no reports that anyone attending the funeral was injured.
The funeral was held amid heavy security. Reuters news agency reported that police formed protective cordons around Haitian officials who attended the ceremony.
The U.S. delegation, led by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, left before Moise’s widow spoke.
“The Presidential Delegation to the funeral of President Moise is safe and accounted for, and those traveling from Washington, D.C., have arrived safely back in the United States,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
Thomas-Greenfield said Friday on Twitter, “We urge everyone to express themselves peacefully and refrain from violence.”
She said, “The Haitian people deserve democracy, stability, security and prosperity, and we stand with them in this time of crisis.”
Once the funeral ended, protesters threw rocks at a caravan of Haitian authorities and journalists as they were leaving, according to The Associated Press.
Moise was shot and killed in a pre-dawn attack at his private residence in a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince. His wife, Martine Moise, was injured during the attack and received treatment at a Miami, Florida, hospital. She returned to Haiti last week to help plan and attend the funeral of her husband.
The funeral came days after Prime Minister Ariel Henry took power in Haiti after receiving support from key international diplomats.
Henry had been designated prime minister by Moise but had not been sworn in because of Moise’s assassination. He has vowed to form a consensus government until elections can be held.
Thomas-Greenfield called on Henry to create conditions for legislative and presidential elections “as soon as feasible,” in remarks when the U.S. delegation arrived in Cap-Haitien.
Some information in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.