Remobilized Soldiers March on the Capital Exchange Gunfire with Police
- Saturday, May 19, 2012 9:07 AM
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) - Government orders to disband were ignored as hundreds of former and would-be soldiers marched through the capital on Friday. The march ended with an exchange of gunfire with police and shots of tear gas from United Nations peacekeepers.
According to The Associated Press, Friday's march began peacefully but some people near the National Palace threw rocks amid the presence of United Nations peacekeepers who responded by firing tear gas. A few of the Haitian men in military uniforms carried handguns according to the AP.
U.N. spokeswoman Eliana Nabaa said earlier that Friday that 40 to 50 of the marchers had been arrested by Haitian police because they were carrying illegal weapons and acting as if they were part of the disbanded military.
The gunfire between the police and former soldiers erupted late Friday. There were no immediate confirmed reports of casualties. A police spokesman couldn't be reached immediately for comment late Friday.
Martelly has said he wants to revive the military and ex-soldiers and their young recruits have been pressing him to honor his campaign promise of restoring the army.
Members of the Martelly administration have called for the lightly armed men to drop their weapons and clear out of the 10 bases they've taken over since February but the government has taken little action to disband the groups and has sent mixed messages defending the resurgence of the Armed Forces of Haiti.