Anti-government protest in Haiti turns violent

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2014 10:15 PM
Anti-government protest in Haiti turns violent

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — An anti-government protest that snaked through sections of Haiti's capital on Tuesday turned violent as three people were apparently shot in a volatile neighborhood.

The march began peacefully when a crowd grew to a few thousand people in slums that are opposition strongholds. But as demonstrators walked by an intersection in Delmas 32, the critics of President Michel Martelly's administration and pro-government residents began shouting and throwing rocks at each other.

As the melee quickly escalated, Associated Press journalists witnessed three people apparently getting hit by bullets. One was hit in the neck and appeared gravely wounded. The two others sustained wounds to limbs.

As a panic ensued in the densely-packed area of cinderblock houses, officers with the Haitian National Police fired tear gas and most demonstrators dispersed. Police spokesman Frantz Lerebours and other authorities made no immediate comment about the violence or any arrests.

Even after the violence, nearly 1,000 protesters continued their Tuesday march demanding Martelly's resignation and a chance to vote in long-delayed legislative and municipal elections.

The president was supposed to call elections in 2011 for a majority of Senate seats, the entire Chamber of Deputies and local offices. But he hasn't done so because the Senate has yet to approve an electoral law authorizing the vote.

The Chamber of Deputies has approved the legislation, but it is being held up in the Senate by six senators who have blocked a vote, arguing it is unconstitutional and favors the government.

Martelly administration officials blame the standoff on the six senators, insisting that the government wants to hold the elections but can't because the lawmakers are blocking the vote by preventing a quorum.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said Tuesday on Twitter tweeted that the six senators need to "unlock the democratic process" and the "opposition must break with their outdated chaotic policies."