On the first day of Haiti’s pre-Lenten Carnival celebration, the country’s two armed forces squared off Sunday, with off-duty members of the Haiti National Police and their supporters exchanging gunfire for more than two hours with members of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse’s reconstituted army just steps away from the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince.

The gun battle between cops — some of them in uniform and others hooded and dressed in civilian clothing fighting alongside civilian protesters — and members of the newly revived Armed Forces of Haiti took place shortly after 1 p.m. on the Champ de Mars, the staging ground for Carnival festivities.

By 8 p.m. the government announced that its national Carnival, planned for Sunday thru Tuesday, was officially canceled “in order to avoid the planned bloodshed.” The announcement came about an hour after the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the North told the Miami Herald that he had taken a similar decision regarding Cap-Haitien’s Mardi Gras. A spokesman for the commission overseeing the festivities later insisted that the street party would go on. Continue reading

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