Anti-government protest in Haiti turns violent

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — An anti-government protest in Haiti turned violent Thursday with police firing tear gas and counter-demonstrators throwing stones at the marchers. People in civilian clothes were seen firing guns into the air.

The march in Port-au-Prince began peacefully as the crowd grew to a few thousand people and passed through poor neighborhoods, many of them strongholds for critics of the government of President Michel Martelly.

“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.”

Once the crowd went up the thoroughfare of Delmas, protesters were attacked by people who threw rocks from rooftops and alleyways. The demonstrators then made a rare trip to the hillside district of Petionville, where many shops and restaurants cater to wealthy Haitians.

Sporadic demonstrations have taken place in Haiti’s capital in recent weeks calling for Martelly’s resignation. Protesters say his government isn’t doing enough to improve living conditions and they want him to hold overdue legislative and local elections.

A few people were seen being hurt by rocks but there were no immediate reports of major injuries.

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

The Martelly administration did not immediately comment on Thursday’s demonstration.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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