CAP-HAÏTIEN, Haiti – Hours before mourners were due to pay tribute to assassinated President Jovenel Moïse at a state funeral on Friday – a moment many hoped would help heal a broken nation – the northern city of Cap-Haïtien burned with anger and frustration exposing the deep divisions in Haiti.

Black smoke from burning tires billowed across the streets on Thursday, a common form of protest in a country divided on geography, wealth and power. Large crowds of demonstrators ran through the narrow colonial streets and shouted: “You killed Jovenel and the police were there.”

Mistrustful of the elite who had come out of the capital, angry men tried to prevent the arrival of mourners from outside the city by throwing a cinder block at the leading car of a motorcade that had navigated through the fire and later over a concrete telephone pole A street.

“We sent someone alive, they sent him back a body,” shouted Frantz Atole, a 42-year-old mechanic, promising violence. “This country will not be silent.”

The state funeral planned for the Moïse family homestead, less than half an hour from downtown Cap-Haïtien, was to attract diplomats from around the world and officials from across the country. But the uproar before the ceremony raised questions about safety and whether everyone who wanted to pay tribute to Mr. Moïse would actually come to the funeral.

Two weeks after Mr Moïse was riddled with bullets in his own bedroom in the capital, Port-au-Prince – killed by a group of Colombian mercenaries, authorities say – the country is still circling the country with unanswered questions and seething with rage. Several members of Mr Moïse’s own security department were also questioned and taken into custody.

A new government was installed in the capital this week, with leaders vowing to get to the bottom of the horrific murders and to reach consensus between the country’s warring political factions and its angry civil society groups. But the unrest Thursday threatened to turn hopes for consensus into a naive, unrealized dream.

“The Port-au-Prince bourgeoisie is responsible. You are the reason for all of this, ”said Emmanuella Joseph, a 20-year-old high school student who cried into a washcloth by the roadside at the end of an ongoing protest. “All I ask is to close all roads so they don’t come.”

She added lamentably that the president’s killers were outsiders who had long interfered in the fate of the country. “What kind of nation comes and kills a president?”

Others shouted that the police and the Presidential Guard, whose members were not injured in the attack on the President’s home, were involved in the murder.

Cap-Haïtien was dressed in mourning on Thursday. It was once the capital of the French colony of St. Domingue, which claimed one of the world’s most brutal slave plantation economies and was later overwhelmed by the world’s most successful slave rebellion. Banners hung over the streets reading “Justice for President Jovenel” and “Thank you, President Jovenel. You gave your life for the struggle of the people and it will go on. “

In the immediate vicinity of the city’s main stone square, where rebel leaders were executed more than two centuries ago, mourners queued to sign books of condolence and light candles before a large photo of the president was taken in a government building.

“We live in such a fragile time,” said Maxil Mompremier in front of the Notre Dame de L’Assomption cathedral from colonial times, where Moïse’s supporters had previously gathered for a service. “Nobody understands what happened. Lots of people are scared. “

The assassination of the President of Haiti

Mr Moïse comes from the north of the country and was not known in the country’s center of power, Port-au-Prince, when he was elected as a candidate for the 2015 elections by the ruling party. Born in the nearby town of Trou-du-Nord, he later began his entrepreneurial career in Port-de-Paix, where he became President of the Chamber of Commerce.

The fact that he was killed far away in Port-au-Prince sparked old divisions between the less developed north and the capital and economic center of the country and deepened the rifts between the country’s small elite and its destitute majority.

“It occurs incessantly in the entire history of Haiti,” said Emile Eyma Jr., a historian from Cap-Haïtien, speaking of the resentments of the northerners. “It is dangerous that both the question of color and the question of regionalism are used as weapons for purely political reasons.”

The president’s wife, Martine Moïse, who was injured in the attack, has announced that her family will pay for the funeral. Planes arrived at the usually sleepy airport all day, with more to arrive on Friday.

But anger burned in the streets of this city.

“We’ll protest all night,” Mr. Atole vowed as the tires burned on a bridge behind him. “We’ll make it difficult for them in town.”

Harold Isaac contributed to the coverage.