Latin America & Caribbean

UN troops disperse Haiti protesters supporting Aristide

A supporter of Haiti's former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide throws rocks in Port-au-Prince, August 14, 2014.
The protesters set up barricades of rocks and burning tyres

UN peacekeepers in Haiti have clashed with supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

Dozens of Mr Aristide's supporters had set up barricades outside his home, fearing he could be arrested.

UN troops fired smoke grenades to disperse the protesters after a car carrying UN staff was attacked.

Mr Aristide faces charges of money laundering, but his supporters say the investigation is politically motivated.

On Wednesday, a judge issued an arrest warrant for him after he failed to appear in court for questioning about the charges, which also include corruption and drug trafficking.

However, Mr Aristide's lawyer said his client did not go to court because he did not receive the summons.

A crowd of demonstrators, said to number around 150, blocked the route to his home with rocks and burning tyres on Thursday to prevent his arrest.

The crowd was dispersed by UN forces, who used smoke grenades
Mr Aristide's supporters say the investigation against him is politically motivated

Some protesters threw stones at a car carrying UN personnel, forcing them to run to a nearby home.

"We can confirm that the UN security team rescued the two UN staff, and then peacekeeping troops cleared the protesters and their barricades, and retrieved the UN vehicle using smoke grenades and armoured vehicles," a UN official told the BBC.

Correspondents say Mr Aristide is seen as a champion of the poor, and remains popular with many in Haiti.

He was Haiti's first freely elected president in 200 years of independence, but was ousted following an uprising in 2004.

He spent seven years in exile in South Africa before returning to the country in 2011.

UN peacekeepers were deployed to restore order after the 2004 uprising, and more than 10,000 uniformed personnel remain on the ground.

The mission has drawn controversy, including allegations of excessive force.

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