Haitian police and UN peacekeepers have clashed with protesters as several thousand opposition supporters tried to march on the presidential palace, demanding new leadership.
The Associated Press reported that UN troops fired in the air as police used tear gas to disperse protesters. The demonstrations started off peacefully but shots were fired after protesters burned tires and threw rocks at police.
Friday’s march in the capital, Port-au-Prince, was only the latest in a series of demonstrations by opposition supporters demanding the resignation of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
It came just days after a government-appointed commission recommended that the country’s prime minister resign.
As the protests were still going on, the president said on Friday evening that Lamothe was ready to step down to help end the country’s political impasse.
“The prime minister is ready to resign,” Martelly said in a national address.
“I acknowledge this decision he is making to help find a solution to the crisis. I commend him for his courage and determination to help Haiti.”
The impoverished Caribbean nation is still reeling from a devastating earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people in January 2010 and flattened much of the capital.
Journalist Amelie Baron told Al Jazeera from Port-au-Prince that many of the protesters came from poor areas of the capital that have not seen much progress being made since the disaster nearly five years ago.
“They cannot see any progress in their lives, while the prime minister and president are travelling to foreign countries telling the world that Haiti is moving on after the quake,” she said. “There are a lot of accusations of corruption and bribery.”
Martelly’s foes accuse him of preparing to return Haiti to dictatorial rule. He was supposed to call elections in 2011 for a majority of Senate seats, the entire Chamber of Deputies and local offices.
The Chamber of Deputies approved legislation in 2013 that would authorise elections. But six opposition senators have blocked the measure.