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Haiti anti-government protest turns violent

Demonstrators call on President Martelly to resign, accusing him of cronyism and failing to ease poverty.

Last updated: 08 Nov 2013 09:11
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Haiti has seen a wave of anti-government protests over the past month [Reuters]

Thousands of Haitian protesters have demanded the resignation of President Michel Martelly, clashing with supporters of the leader in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Protesters said two people suffered gunshot wounds after Martelly loyalists opened fire during Thursday's skirmishes that lasted for several hours.

The two sides hurled stones at each other during the fighting, which brought parts of the city to a standstill and triggered huge traffic jams.

Anti-Martelly demonstrators accused the Haitian president of cronyism, charging that he is ruling the impoverished Caribbean nation for the benefit of his friends and family.

"We are from the ghettos. We get nothing from the government which works only for the rich," protester Johnny Joseph shouted.

The march began peacefully as the crowd grew to a few thousand people and passed through poor neighbourhoods, many of them strongholds of government critics.

"This is the people's fight for a change for better conditions,'' said Carlo Jean Daniel as he walked among the marchers. "Nothing is coming down for the people."

The demonstrators were dispersed by police after attempting to reach the Presidential Palace.

Haiti has seen a wave of anti-government protests over the past month, with demonstrators accusing Martelly of failing to ease poverty and unemployment and demanding his resignation.

The United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Haiti issued a statement on Thursday asking the divided legislative and executive branches to agree on "priority political issues," which include the holding of elections.

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