A former rebel leader arrived in Haiti’s capital on Tuesday amid large protests across the country for the second consecutive day, demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
Haitian national police used tear gas to disperse protesters, who set fire to car tires, filling streets with clouds of grey 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.
The protests shut down major cities in Haiti on Monday, as demonstrators clashed with police and demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister.
Banks, schools and government agencies closed in Haiti’s northern and southern regions while protesters blocked main routes with blazing tires and paralyzed public transportation, according to local media reports.
In Hinche, a city in Haiti’s central region, protesters celebrated the arrival of heavily armed state environmental agents and their commander, Joseph Jean Baptiste, who demanded that Henry resign.
More protests are expected today, Wednesday, across Haiti, as 7 February has been mooted as the deadline for Henry to resign.
The date is significant in Haiti: On 7 Feb. 1986, former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fled for France, and on 7 Feb. 1991 Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, was sworn in.
Long-awaited peacekeeping mission
But a Kenyan court ruled against Nairobi's plan to deploy the police officers to support the troubled island nation's security forces.
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