US delegation departs Haiti after reports of gunshots at ex-president’s funeral
A presidential delegation to the funeral of assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse left Haiti earlier than expected on Friday after reports of gunshots outside the ceremony location.
“The presidential delegation is safe and accounted for in light of the reported shootings outside of the funeral,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday afternoon.
“We are deeply concerned about unrest in Haiti. In this critical moment, Haiti’s leaders must come together to chart a united path that reflects the will of the Haitian people,” Psaki added. “We remain committed to supporting the people of Haiti in this challenging time.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield led the presidential delegation to the deceased Haitian leader’s funeral on Friday. Officials were slated to attend the state funeral for Moïse, who was assassinated earlier this month at his residence, and meet with Haitian stakeholders.
NBC News reported that the group departed earlier than anticipated but that officials were still able to meet with Haiti’s new prime minister, Ariel Henry, during the funeral.
According to Reuters, gunshots were fired near the funeral and riot gas was used on protesters. The events are said to have caused the U.S. delegation to abruptly leave the funeral.
Greenfield issued a statement Friday afternoon saying members of the delegation had “arrived safely back in the United States.”
The delegation also included U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison, newly announced special envoy to Haiti Daniel Foote, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere Juan Gonzalez, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.).
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a subsequent statement that the U.S. urges “all parties to express themselves peacefully, and call on Haiti’s leaders to be clear that their supporters must refrain from violence.”
“In this critical moment, Haiti’s leaders must work together and engage in a broad and inclusive dialogue that is reflective of the will of the Haitian people,” Sullivan said “The Presidential Delegation, led by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and joined by Representative Meeks and Representative Fortenberry, met with senior Haitian officials and civil society leaders and shared this message directly.”
The funeral was held in the city of Cap-Haïtien on Friday amid continuing turmoil and violence in the country. The area was met with protests leading up to the funeral for Moïse.
The U.S. has offered investigative assistance to Haitian authorities investigating the assassination. A number of individuals have been arrested in the course of the investigation.
President Biden resisted calls earlier this month by then-interim prime minister Claude Joseph to send troops into the country to help protect critical infrastructure.
A separate U.S. delegation visited Haiti earlier this month to meet with authorities and political leaders there to assess how the U.S. could assist in the wake of the assassination.
“The United States will continue to provide requested assistance, including equipment and training, to the Haitian National Police and the Government of Haiti amid ongoing security challenges,” Sullivan said Friday. “Additionally, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are providing investigative assistance to the Haitian authorities at the request of the Government of Haiti, and will keep working closely with our international partners to support the Haitian government as it seeks to hold accountable those responsible for the assassination of President Moïse.”
Updated: 5:20 p.m.