PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Protests shut down major cities in Haiti on Monday as demonstrators clashed with police and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
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.
“I want Ariel to stand in front of my bullets, so they go through him,” the commander said as someone filmed him while the crowd cheered.
“We’re the ones who have the support of the population,” he said.
The agents, who belong to the Security Brigade for Protected Areas, have come under government scrutiny following recent clashes with police in northern Haiti.
Smaller demonstrations took place in the capital of Port-au-Prince, where dozens of protesters gathered in front of Henry’s office before police fired tear gas, dispersing the crowd. Among the protesters was presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who was seen in a video wiping his face as supporters yelled, “We are not stopping!”
At least three days of protests culminating on Wednesday are expected across Haiti, with Feb. 7 considered the supposed deadline for Henry to resign.
The date is significant in Haiti: Feb. 7, 1986 marked the day that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fled for France, and Feb. 7, 1991 marked the day that Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, was sworn in.
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