WASHINGTON/PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI/UNITED NATIONS - Supporters of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise gathered Wednesday near the National Palace in Port-au-Prince to honor him, placing multiple floral wreaths near the palace gates.
"We will never forget you," a man said as he placed a wreath on the ground.
"I have no strength left. I can't deal anymore. When I think about how he was killed, I just start crying. They massacred the father of the nation," a female supporter who did not wish to give her name, told VOA.
Another female supporter said she believes the president’s assassination was political.
"Everyone knows why he was killed. He was assassinated just like the emperor (Jean-Jacques Dessalines). For over 50 years, we have dealt with these types of actions — that's why this country is in such a sorry state. If we don't change the system, we will never make any progress," she told VOA.
Mackenson Cange, spokesman for the Alliance Democratique Contre la Transition en Haiti Party, said supporters want to send a clear signal to everyone who is watching events unfold in Haiti.
"The president's blood will not be shed in vain," he told VOA. "We need to know in what context the president was killed. We need to know the motive behind the killing. We are asking for justice for President Moise, and we are ready to risk our lives to ensure that happens."
Cange appealed to anyone involved in the assassination to surrender to police.
"Don't let the people be the ones to find you," Cange said.
Former Moise campaign colleague Pierre Garry Bernadotte, who is the Haitian delegate for the West Department, said he felt compelled to participate in Wednesday’s event.
"I spent six years and five months with Jovenel Moise. I started out with him on the first day of his campaign, and we stayed with him until his last day. In fact, we continue to serve him (in the government)," Pierre told VOA.
"All Haitians must reflect on what happened — regardless of whether you liked Jovenel or not. We must admit that things must change in this country. We need to learn the lesson of this tragedy so that the president does not die in vain," he said.
At the United Nations, countries paid tribute Wednesday to the slain president and expressed solidarity and support for the Haitian people.
Flanked by a portrait of Moise and a bouquet of white lilies and hydrangeas, Deputy U.N. Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the U.N. was joining the people of Haiti in their mourning.
“We say goodbye not only to a head of state, but to a friend, a father and a husband,” she said.
“Nothing can justify this act of inhumanity that took place on Haitian soil against President Moise,” the St. Kitts and Nevis’s envoy said, on behalf of the Caribbean Community of states (CARICOM). “It must, therefore, be condemned, and its perpetrators must be brought to justice if we are going to avoid the collapse of civilization in Haiti.”
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., expressed support for the people of Haiti.
“We urge all political parties, civil society groups, and other stakeholders to work together to prioritize calm and stability,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “At this challenging and most difficult time, I want to assure the Haitian people that our partnership with you will continue.”
Funeral planning committee
Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph said Tuesday funeral planning was being handled in consultation with first lady Martine Moise and the Moise family. An official government announcement was issued ahead of a press conference to introduce members of the official planning committee.
"The council of ministers will oversee the committee's work. The institutions and public administration will provide all necessary resources in completing this mission. The government should provide members of the committee with everything they need while being respectful of the task at hand," Joseph said.
In addition to himself, Joseph said the committee members include the ministers of defense, culture and communication, and interior; the director of the cabinet (chief of staff); the secretary-general of the presidency; and the director-general of the MUPANAH (Musée du Panthéon National Haitien).
According to a Moise family member, the president wanted to be laid to rest in the north, where his father is buried.
The prime minister called on Haitian citizens to participate in the funeral ceremony and events honoring Moise's life.
"We must bid him farewell with honor and dignity," Joseph said.