Haitian police, protesters clash; president calls for unity

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A protester walks past burning barricades during a protest demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The country is currently experiencing a political impasse without a parliament and is now run entirely by decree under Moise. ( AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haitian police on Saturday fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse anti-government protesters who blocked roads and set fires in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Several people were injured.

It was the latest unrest during more than a year of protests calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse over corruption charges. Haiti is currently experiencing a political impasse without a parliament and is now run by decree under Moïse.

The president marked Saturday by appealing for unity and laying a wreath on the 214th anniversary of the death of Haiti’s first independent ruler, Jean-Jacque Dessalines.

Many Haitians criticize the government’s pandemic response, alleging that authorities have not done enough to provide treatment for those affected, or offered economic support for those who lost work due to a national lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the impoverished country.

The police have held their own protests this year, demanding better pay and working conditions. In February, police exchanged gunfire with Haitian soldiers outside the national palace where police were protesting working conditions.

Earlier this year, a scathing United Nations report accused Haitian police of corruption and failing to protect the population.

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