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Protesters blast Haiti president's quake response
From: 2010-05-13 12:44:54

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Police fired tear gas outside the ruins of Haiti's national palace Monday to control 2,000 demonstrators calling for President Rene Preval's resignation in the largest political protest since the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Trucks filled with riot police rolled behind the protesters as they jogged past tarps and shanties shouting insults at Preval, who has been criticized for his low profile following the quake and for allegedly using the destruction as a pretext to stay in office beyond his term.
"He is profiting from this disaster in order to stay in power," said Herve Santilus, 39, a sociologist who was laid off a few weeks after the magnitude-7 quake struck and has not been able to find work since.
Many demonstrators identified themselves as supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was exiled to Africa aboard a U.S. plane during a 2004 rebellion. Protesters marched to the national mall following speaker trucks that trumpeted calls for Aristide's return.
At several points the protest encountered trouble: In the narrow passages of the Bel-Air slum, counterprotesters threw rocks at the passing crowd. At least twice, shotgun blasts rang out from cracked and collapsed buildings, but it was not clear who fired them.
At least one man was wounded by a bullet, police spokesman Frantz Lerebours said. His condition was not immediately known.
Students supporting the protest threw rocks at passing U.N. vehicles, only to be choked into submission by volleys of police-fired tear gas.
Police separately arrested at least seven people on charges of robbing people in the mob. A U.S. Army helicopter circled overhead, centering on areas where the crowd was heaviest.
This was the strongest showing of opposition to the Haitian leader since the quake, which killed a government-estimated 230,000 to 300,000 people. The insults were deep and vulgar: Some talked about Preval's mother, others chanted that the first lady belonged "under the rubble."
 

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