Violence erupts at Haiti protests

Tear gas fired at protesters demanding President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe step down.

The march began peacefully but some protesters later threw rocks and set tyres ablaze [Reuters]

Thousands of anti-government protesters have marched through Haiti’s capital for the second time in two days amid anger over delayed elections and other issues.

The crowd began marching peacefully toward the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince, but protesters later began burning tyres, throwing rocks at police and trying to force their way through barricades as officers fired tear gas.

Many protesters carried posters demanding that President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe step down.

“We need elections in the country so democracy can continue … not corruption,” said Jean Ronald Brison, owner of an auto parts store.

Martelly’s administration was supposed to call elections in 2011 for a majority of Senate seats, the entire Chamber of Deputies and local offices.

But both he and Lamothe have blamed legislators for blocking a vote that would lead to approval of an electoral law. Six senators have said the legislation is unconstitutional and favours the government.

A similar protest held on Friday also turned violent, with police firing tear gas at protesters who burned tires and threw rocks as they pushed through the security perimeter at the National Palace. No deaths or major injuries were reported.

Lamothe addressed the protest late on Friday via Twitter: “We urge demonstrators to exercise their constitutional right with restraint and responsibility.”

Four anti-government demonstrations have been held in Haiti’s capital in about a month and a fifth is planned for next week.

Source: AP