Environmental Protection Agents Killed in Haitian Protests

Thu Feb 08 2024
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Violent clashes near the Haitian capital on Wednesday resulted in the death of five agents from an environmental protection body, heightening tensions amid widespread protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Since Monday, Haiti has been gripped by unrest, with demonstrators in Port-au-Prince and across the nation calling for Henry’s ouster in accordance with a political agreement reached in 2022.

According to a police source, the five agents of the National Agency for Protected Areas, now in rebellion, were fatally shot after refusing to disarm and exchanging fire with police. Three other agency members were arrested.

Under a December 2022 agreement following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, Henry was expected to hold elections and relinquish power to newly elected officials on February 7, 2024. However, Henry remains in office, with plans to form a government of national unity.

Protesters, including a motorcycle taxi driver and an unemployed individual, expressed frustration with Henry’s leadership, citing ongoing issues with gang violence, economic hardship, and lack of basic services.

The protests, supported by opposition parties and environmental agency employees, coincide with the symbolic anniversary of the end of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986. Major roads and schools have been closed, and a police station in the northeastern province of Ouanaminthe was reportedly attacked.

In response to the unrest, the Dominican Republic announced border reinforcement to address potential spillover effects of the violence.

Haiti, the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation, has grappled with political instability, gang violence, and economic challenges for years, exacerbated by the assassination of Moise in 2021 and the subsequent power vacuum.

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