UN soldiers break up protest against mission’s yearly renewal in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — U.N. peacekeepers clashed Friday with a small group of Haitians protesting the yearly renewal of the 12,000-member military and police force.

About 60 protesters organized by labour, housing and other activist groups blocked the entrance to the main U.N. logistics base near Port-au-Prince’s airport.

Most of the protesters came from the post-earthquake camps that still dominate the capital. They spray-painted anti-U.N. slogans on cars and burned the flag of Brazil, which provides the largest contingent to the mission.

U.N. security personnel then emerged from the base. A plainclothes guard struck a protester before a Jordanian soldier with the mission fired a warning shot. AP journalists also saw a Haitian policeman hit protesters with his rifle and a U.N. vehicle push through the crowd, knocking over protesters and journalists.

The protest was in response to a unanimous Security Council vote Thursday to renew the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, which has been in place since the 2004 ouster of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

A statement from legal-aid group Bureau des Avocats Internationaux said money is wasted on the mission, which it called ineffective. It said protesters want “real assistance, not the renewal of … an occupying military force.”

The U.N. has budgeted $380 million for the mission this year.

Spokesman Vicenzo Pugliese said the mission had no comment on the protest.

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