Haitian Police Use Tear Gas to Disperse Pro-Aristide Demonstration

Tuesday, 01 Oct 2013 04:29 AM


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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Police fired in the air and used tear gas Monday to break up a protest in the Haitian capital in support of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Several thousand demonstrators gathered in Port-au-Prince to mark the 22nd anniversary of a coup that toppled the ex-leader, who returned to the Caribbean nation from exile in 2011.

Those taking to the streets called on the current government led by President Michel Martelly not to "persecute" the former Roman Catholic priest.

Police lobbed tear gas and fired into the air to break up the group, according to an AFP reporter. But by midday, no injuries had been reported.

U.N. peacekeepers were also deployed to the scene.

Aristide — known as a champion of Haiti's poor and reviled by the elite — is still popular in the impoverished country.

In May, he appeared in court to testify before a judge over the assassination of a prominent journalist in 2000.

Questioned as part of a broad, long-running probe, that rare public appearance drew tens of thousands of supporters out into the streets.

Aristide was president from 1991 to 1996 and 2001 to 2004, though his first mandate was cut short between 1991 and 1994 by the coup that saw him take refuge in the United States.

He eventually left Haiti in 2004 aboard a U.S. Air Force plane into exile in South Africa, fleeing political turmoil. He returned to his homeland in March 2011.

© AFP 2014

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