Haitian police and United Nations peacekeepers clashed with protesters in downtown Port-Au-Prince on Friday, just hours before the country's president agreed to accept his prime minister's resignation.
AFP and the Associated Press reported that security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition at large crowds that assembled in the Haitian capital to demand new leadership. No injuries were reported, but the atmosphere was tense as the crowd marched through the streets burning tires and barricades with the sound of gunfire crackling all around.
President Michel Martelly agreed Friday to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe following the recommendation of a presidential commission that also seeks to oust 40 other members of the government and the head judge of the country's Supreme Court. The timetable for the resignations remains unclear, but Martelly said in a 20-minute national address Friday that work on reshaping the government will start Monday, according to the M_iami Herald_.
But Martelly's announcement did not quell the unrest, and protesters returned to the streets again Saturday afternoon. The presence of UN peacekeepers in Haiti is controversial, with a group of citizens currently pursuing a lawsuit against the international body after UN soldiers triggered a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 9,000 people since 2010.
Members of the country's opposition groups are upset over Martelly's appointments of public officials and a failure to hold public elections. Martelly was supposed to call elections in 2011, but he has repeatedly delayed the process. With the terms of 10 senators set to expire in mid-January, Haiti's parliament will be dissolved, leaving Martelly to rule by decree.
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