Haiti police use tear gas to stop tax protest

Haitian police put out tire fires set by demonstrators in Port-au-Prince on October 17, 2017

Haitian police on Tuesday used tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters marching on the capital Port-au-Prince, as anger mounts over tax hikes seen as unfairly targeting the poor.

It was the latest in a series of demonstrations that began over a month ago against the 2017-18 budget passed by the administration of President Jovenel Moise.

The march was disrupted by police halfway along its route, angering protesters.

Some threw stones, with police responding by firing tear gas and water cannons.

Later, a small group of fleeing protesters tried to set fire to a gas station but failed, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

Opposition senator Antonio Cheramy accused authorities of being heavy-handed, adding: "The more violent they are, the more people will become energized."

"Instead of responding to the demands of the people, Jovenel gives orders to crush demonstrations," added protester Pierre Richard.

Moise was sworn into office in February, vowing to boost the economy of the poorest country in the Americas, and lure back Haitians living abroad.

The country is also struggling to emerge from a major cholera outbreak, and still suffering the effects of the January 2010 earthquake, with tens of thousands of people camping in tents without proper sanitation seven years on.

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