Violent protests overshadow Carnival in Haiti

A police protest in Haiti turned violent this weekend during a street rally over low pay.

The sounds of gun battles... and the smell of tear gas replaced celebations for Carnival in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

It wasn't immediately clear who fired the shots or gas.

However - it's just the latest flare-up of a nation in crisis.

Haiti's been wracked by a prolonged economic emergency.

Anger boiled over Sunday (February 23) as police questioned why there was enough money left for Carnival, but seemingly not enough for officers' livelihoods

(SOUNDBITE) (Creole) LOCAL RESIDENT, SENATUS JEAN RAYNOLD, SAYING:

"We don't want carnival. Second, we support the police protest who are demanding a union. The lack of security in this country is the fault of (President) Jovenel Moise. He uses the army to destroy the police. Various police officers have been wounded by bullets. There is one who died. We say to the people that we need to keep going until the end."

Sunday's protest is just one of several this year.

President Jovenel Moise has been ruling by decree since January after the country failed to hold elections.

The worsening political situation has cut Haiti off from much-needed international funding.

The country is the poorest in the Americas, and losing funding has hamstrung its ability to respond to spiralling crises, including massive food shortages.

One in every three Haitians, around 3.7 million people, are in need of food assistance.