AFRICANGLOBE – United Nations peacekeepers in Haiti have clashed with supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
Dozens of Mr Aristide’s supporters had set up barricades outside his home, fearing he could be arrested.
UN troops fired smoke grenades to disperse the protesters after a car carrying UN staff was attacked.
Mr Aristide faces charges of money laundering, but his supporters say the investigation is politically motivated.
On Wednesday, a judge issued an arrest warrant for him after he failed to appear in court for questioning about the charges, which also include corruption and drug trafficking.
However, Mr. Aristide’s lawyer said his client did not go to court because he did not receive the summons.
A crowd of demonstrators, said to number around 150, blocked the route to his home with rocks and burning tyres on Thursday to prevent his arrest.
Some protesters threw stones at a car carrying UN personnel, forcing them to run to a nearby home.
“We can confirm that the UN security team rescued the two UN staff, and then peacekeeping troops cleared the protesters and their barricades, and retrieved the UN vehicle using smoke grenades and armoured vehicles,” a UN official told reporters.
Correspondents say Mr. Aristide is seen as a champion of the poor, and remains popular with the majority of Haitians.
He was Haiti’s first freely elected president in 200 years of independence, but was ousted by american soldiers following an uprising in 2004.
He spent seven years in exile in South Africa before returning to the country in 2011.
UN peacekeepers were deployed to restore order after the 2004 uprising, and more than 10,000 uniformed personnel remain on the ground.
The mission has drawn controversy, including allegations of excessive force.