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Haiti Carnival scrapped after unrest: official

Revelers perform on the third day of Haiti's national Carnival parade on February 13, 2018, in Port-au-Prince
AFP/File
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Port-au-Prince (AFP)

Haiti's minister of culture and communication announced Wednesday that national Carnival celebrations will be canceled in the wake of violent protests that paralyzed the country for more than 10 days.

"Organizing a national Carnival requires preparation time," Jean-Michel Lapin told reporters.

"Technically, it is too late for the government to discuss organizing a national Carnival in the city of Gonaives" to begin Sunday, as originally planned, he added, speaking alongside members of the organizing committee.

Early this month, people took to the streets across the country to demand the ouster of President Jovenel Moise and improved living conditions in the deeply impoverished Caribbean island nation.

At least seven people were killed during clashes that paralyzed the country and resulted in significant property damage.

The cities of Port-au-Prince and Petionville, which usually host the two biggest Carnival parades, have already canceled festivities because of the crisis.

Although the national festivities are canceled, the government stressed that people could still participate in other celebrations.

The national Carnival budget is estimated at 350 million gourdes ($4.3 million) after a 50-million-gourde subsidy.

Lapin said that instead of being poured into Gonaives, the subsidy funds can be disbursed across "all cities ready to host the tradition this weekend."

Despite the country's political instability in recent decades, the national Carnival has been held every year except 2010, even if on a sometimes smaller scale.

In January of 2010, more than 200,000 people were killed in an earthquake that also injured 300,000 others and left more than 1.5 million Haitians homeless.

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