Haiti: Police use tear gas, live ammunition on protesters

Protesters demand President Jovenel Moise resign as widespread food and fuel shortages grip the country.

    Haiti: Police use tear gas, live ammunition on protesters
    A demonstrator douses a tear gas canister with water during a protest in demand of the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince [Chandan Khanna/AFP]

    Haitian police used tear gas and live ammunition on Friday to disperse protesters in the capital, as anger over the economic and political problems in the country continue to grow.

    At least four people died in clashes in recent days with many reports of injuries.

    Haitians are protesting widespread food and fuel shortages, a weakening currency, double-digit inflation and corruption accusations lodged against public officials in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

    Many are calling for President Jovenel Moise to stand down after what they say is a failure to address the myriad of problems. 

    The protests on Friday were among the largest and most violent in months. 

    In the wealthier neighbourhoods of Delmas and Petion Ville, angry crowds also looted several stores, banks and money transfer offices, ATMs and pharmacies. They also set a building on fire. 

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    Crowds stripped the abandoned police station in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince's poorest neighbourhood, of sheet metal roofing, furniture and police protection equipment. 

    Al Jazeera's Manuel Rapalo, reporting from the capital, described a tense atmosphere.

    "In Port-Au-Prince, public services, shops and businesses are closed. Public transportation is on a standstill," he said.

    "Demonstrators have blocked roadways using anything in their disposal from debris to burning tires since early on Friday," he added.

    "Angry protesters blame the president of corruption and say that he is practically incapable to rule the country and the economy."

    Haiti protests
    People march in Cite Soleil during a protest in demand of the resignation of President Jovenel Moise [Chandan Khanna/AFP]

    Steven Edgard, a protester, said: "We did not want the police to come out of their base because this is a unit that fired real bullets at the people, that uses tear gas grenades when all people want is to be respected." 

    "Now people are taking whatever they can to make their houses better because they are tired of getting soaked when it rains," he added.

    In an apparent attempt to calm tensions, Moise on Thursday replaced several security officials after calls from human rights groups to remove people they accused of involvement in a massacre in the poor La Saline neighbourhood.

    Moise also cancelled his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this week and made a rare address to the nation.

    He suggested a unity government in the hope of calming tempers after a ruling-party senator fired a pistol to disperse a crowd, injuring a photojournalist.

    Police spokesman Gary Desrosiers said four people were shot dead in demonstrations between September 16 and September 25.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies