February 8, 2007
Hundreds of supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide protested outside the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Port au Prince on Wednesday.
They were demanding the exiled leader’s return and blaming blue-helmeted troops of killing civilians.
Protesters shouted “down with the UN” as they gathered at the headquarter.
“If you look at what is happening in Cite de Soleil, it is a disaster. We did not imagine the United Nations would be causing the violence in Cite Soleil,” protester Walqing Desire said.
“We are calling upon the government to stop the violence in Cite Soleil. We are calling upon the government for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and to tell the UN to stop killing the people in Cite Soleil,” he added.
Aristide, a former priest turned president, fled the Caribbean nation in February 2004 amid a three-week rebel uprising.
He later accused the United States of kidnapping him in a coup.
The 9,000-strong UN peacekeeping force arrived in July 2004 to quell violence after Aristide’s ouster but struggled to root out gangs based in Port-au-Prince’s dense slums.
The protesters said civilians were often killed in gun battles started by peacekeepers.
The march coincided with the 21st anniversary of the ouster of former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, whose departure paved the way for Haiti’s first free elections in December 1990, which Aristide won in a landslide.
Aristide was ousted a year later in a military coup but returned to power in 1994 after 20,000 US troops came to Haiti to halt an exodus of boat people to Florida and restore democracy.
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