Haiti will not hold state funeral for ex-president Duvalier
SANTO DOMINGO, Oct. 9 (Xinhua/Sun) -- The Haitian government has decided against a state funeral for former president Jean Claude " Baby Doc" Duvalier, his lawyer said Thursday, citing outside pressure against any state honors for Duvalier.
"It was agreed a national funeral would be held for the president. But in the end, (the government) bowed to pressure," Duvalier family lawyer Reynold Georges told Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste.
Instead, a normal funeral would take place Saturday at a church frequented by Duvalier, and close friends were invited to offer their condolences Thursday at a church in the southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince, he said. "We ... are going to organize regular funerals for the president. This sets a very bad precedent. "
The decision, however, gained approval from human rights activists and others who have opposed a state funeral held in honor of the self-proclaimed "president for life."
Between 20,000 and 30,000 people are believed to have been killed during the reign of Duvalier who seized power in 1971, but fled into exile in 1986 during a popular uprising. He returned to Haiti 13 years ago and died of a heart attack on Saturday at the age of 63.
Pierre Esperance, executive director of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights, said it "was a very good decision. "
The opponents have gathered more than 2,000 signatures and filed an online petition against the official ceremony, Esperance added.
The administration of Haitian President Michel Martelly initially said protocol required a state funeral for all heads of state, which would have entailed flags flying at half mast, days of national mourning and a ceremony attended by dignitaries and others.