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Haiti’s president accepts report that calls for prime minister to quit, new government to form


By Evens Sanon

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Michel-Martelly-Haitian President

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti _ President Michel Martelly said Friday night that he accepted all the findings of a report this week from a government-appointed commission, including its recommendation that the prime minister resign.

Martelly said during a brief televised speech that Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was prepared to make a sacrifice and resign, although he did not say that Lamothe would step down. Lamothe was at the announcement but did not speak.

Martelly said he would meet with other government officials Monday, while stressing his view that Lamothe had been helping move the country forward.

The president appointed the 11-member commission Nov. 28 to help break a political stalemate that has held up long-delayed legislative and municipal elections that have led to violent protests in recent days.

The commission released its report Tuesday recommending among other things that Lamothe step down to allow creation of a new consensus government. The panel also called for resignations before Christmas by the president of the Supreme Court and the current members of Haiti‘s Provisional Electoral Council, an institution long accused of alleged bias and votes plagued by fraud allegations.

The report also says that several “political prisoners” should be immediately released.

Jean Andre Victor, a mechanic, said he listened to Martelly’s speech on the radio and had his doubts, saying the administration has made a lot of promises in the past.

“I hope he respects what he said tonight,” Victor said.

Martelly spoke just hours after United Nations peacekeepers fired at a crowd of protesters who demanded new leadership as they marched through the capital, Port-au-Prince, burning tires and clashing with U.N. troops and police, who also fired tear gas. Associated Press journalists did not observe any injuries or deaths.

U.N. mission spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud de la Combe did not return a message for comment.

Martelly 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, and has filled numerous positions by appointment.

The Chamber of Deputies approved legislation in 2013 that would authorize elections, but six opposition senators have rejected the measure, saying it is unconstitutional and unfairly favours the government.

Administration officials have reiterated that the government wants to hold the elections. The terms of 10 senators expire in mid-January and Parliament will be dissolved, meaning Martelly would rule by decree.

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Associated Press reporter Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

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