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At least one dead, dozens hurt as thousands protest graft in Haiti

At least one dead, dozens hurt as thousands protest graft in Haiti
Protesters march to demand an investigation into what they say is the alleged misuse of Venezuela-sponsored PetroCaribe funds, in Port-au-Prince. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares   -   Copyright  Andres Martinez Casares(Reuters)
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PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – At least one person was killed and dozens injured as thousands of protesters took to the streets in Haiti on Wednesday over a corruption scandal and some marchers called for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.

A report by Haiti’s Senate accused former government officials of embezzlement, abuse of authority and forgery involving the Venezuelan Petrocaribe oil loan program during the 2008-16 administrations of former presidents Rene Preval and Michel Martelly.

Moise, in a speech on Wednesday to mark the 1806 death of Haiti’s founder, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, pledged that a trial would be held to get to the bottom of missing Petrocaribe funds.

“Once you have stolen government funds, whether you are part of the government, of the opposition or of the population, you’ll have to face justice,” Moise said in his remarks in the northern town of Marchand Dessalines.

Opposition leaders have said they do not believe a fair trial is possible while Moise remains in power because of his ties to Martelly.

Protesters erected flaming barricades made of tires and piles of garbage, while shots rang out across the capital, Port-au-Prince. Police fired tear gas at some demonstrators, and in response, some hurled rocks back at them.

Riot police could also be seen standing guard at several businesses in the capital’s upscale Petion-Ville area.

One man was killed in downtown Port-au-Prince amid several violent incidents there and in other cities, police said. Dozens were injured, including 10 police officers.

The police did not provide additional information on the circumstances of the man’s death.

“We have a right to know where the money has gone because it has not been used to help develop the country,” said 24-year-old protester Jeremie Merovier.

Petrocaribe, launched in 2005, has furnished about a dozen Caribbean countries including Haiti with oil under a flexible credit scheme featuring low interest rates.

(Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva and Robenson Sanon; writing by David Alire Garcia; editing by Grant McCool)

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