Haitian police on Wednesday fired tear gas on hundreds of protesters who were marching against Haitian President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, and attacked journalists covering the demonstration, in the latest clashes to mark the country’s political crisis.
The protesters accuse Moise of illegally extending his term in office.
Moise has said that it lasts until February next year, but the opposition has said that it should have ended last weekend.
Police moved to violently clear the demonstration and, on several occasions, were seen directly targeting clearly identified members of the media.
“Their job is to shoot the activists, throwing gas on all the press,” protester Senat Andre Dufot said.
“We all noticed that they put a tear gas canister in the back of the pickup of the TV Pacific car,” he said, referring to a Haitian media outlet vehicle, while clutching a copy of the country’s constitution in his hand.
In a statement, the Association of Haitian Journalists then called on the Haitian National Police to “conduct an investigation to identify the perpetrators of these abuses so that they can be held accountable for their actions.”
Officials loyal to Moise on Sunday said that they had foiled an attempt to murder him and overthrow the government in a coup.
Police arrested 23 people, including Haitian Supreme Court Judge Yvickel Dieujuste Dabresil, accusing them of an “attempted coup.”
On Tuesday, Moise tried to force out three judges, including Dabresil, who were proposed as potential interim national leaders to replace him.
Dabresil was on Wednesday released from prison on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, but remains under judicial supervision, his lawyers said.
Later, human rights advocate Marie-Yolene Gilles of the Je Klere Foundation said that the judge remained in prison.
“When there are opponents fighting, the best way to eliminate them was to accuse them of fomenting a coup,” protester Ebens Cadet said on Wednesday.
The decree appears to go against the Haitian constitution and the nation’s laws.
The US had backed Moise’s stance, but in a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, the US embassy in Port-au-Prince said that it was “deeply concerned about any actions that risk damaging Haiti’s democratic institutions.”
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