Police fire tear gas as hundreds protest government in Haiti

National police used tear gas to disperse protesters, who set fire to car tires, filling streets with clouds of gray smoke

Reuters
Published : 6 Feb 2024, 05:41 AM
Updated : 6 Feb 2024, 05:41 AM

Hundreds of Haitians took to the streets on Monday to protest the unelected government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whose administration has seen alliances of violent gangs expand control across most of the capital and spread to nearby areas.

National police used tear gas to disperse protesters, who set fire to car tires, filling streets with clouds of gray smoke.

Henry assumed power shortly after the assassination of the country's last president, Jovenel Moise, in 2021. Since then a power vacuum has allowed the rise of powerful gangs who have largely gathered around two main alliances, G9 and G-Pep.

Clashes between rival gangs, police and civilian vigilante groups have had devastating impacts on local residents, who face indiscriminate killings, rampant sexual violence, lootings, kidnaps-for-ransom and arson.

"Henry has done absolutely nothing for the population; insecurity is everywhere, the roads are destroyed, no one can get on with their daily lives," protester Dominique Thelemaque told Reuters.

"We are not here today to wage a war against Ariel Henry to replace him with someone else. We are here today to wage a war against the system."

The head of the Human Rights Watch earlier this year estimated some 300,000 people are internally displaced due to the violence.

The United Nations estimates that 170,000 children are internally displaced, and nearly half of the population is going hungry as the conflict prevents food, aid and people from moving across the country.