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Haiti’s prime minister dismissed amid unrest

Sun., April 13, 2008

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haitian lawmakers on Saturday dismissed the country’s prime minister, hoping to defuse widespread anger over rising food prices that led to days of deadly protests and looting.

President Rene Preval, who earlier announced plans to cut the price of rice, immediately said he would seek a replacement for the ousted Jacques Edouard Alexis. The prime minister took office in 2006 with Preval’s backing to head a Cabinet meant to unite the nation. After Alexis’ dismissal, when the country seemed to be calming, a U.N. police officer bringing food to his unit was pulled from a car and killed execution style in Port-au-Prince, U.N. sources said.

Opposition Sen. Youri Latortue said lawmakers ousted the prime minister because he did not boost food production and refused to set a timetable for the departure of U.N. peacekeepers. “I think that will satisfy the people,” he said after 16 senators out of 27 voted to remove the prime minister.

But about 25 people gathered outside parliament after the dismissal, chanting “Aristide or death,” in reference to exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Before the death of the U.N. policeman Saturday, U.N. military commander Maj. Gen. Carlos Alberto Dos Santos Cruz said that calm was returning across the country, with some transportation resuming and people going back to work. The officer, identified in a forensics report as Nigerian Cpl. Nagya Aminu, 36, drove a marked U.N. vehicle into a crowded clothing market near the cathedral, where he was dragged from the car and shot through the neck, U.N. police spokesman Fred Blaise said.


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