Hector Retemal / AFP / Getty Images

Haiti's prime minister resigns amid protests

Laurent Lamothe to leave office in a bid to quell unrest over alleged corruption, delayed elections

Haiti's prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, succumbed to domestic and international pressure on Sunday and announced he would resign in a televised address in the middle of night.

"I am leaving the post of prime minister this evening with a feeling of accomplishment," he said.

The announcement came a day after President Michel Martelly accepted the recommendations of a special commission that called for Lamothe's resignation as part of an effort to resolve a long-running political dispute over delayed legislative and municipal elections.

Haiti, the poorest and most unequal country in the western hemisphere, is still recovering from an earthquake five years ago that leveled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and has periodically been rocked by street protests accusing the government of corruption. 

On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators calling for the resignation of Lamothe and Martelly took to the streets in several cities. One man was shot dead by police near the ruins of the presidential palace.

Lamothe said he was leaving with his head held high, citing the "remarkable work" of the government. "We put this country on a dynamic of deep and real change for the benefit of the population," he said.

It was not clear when a new prime minister would be sworn in, but it marked the end of a close alliance between Martelly and Lamothe, friends and business partners.

Lamothe, who attended university in Miami, is credited with helping manage key infrastructure projects after taking office in May 2012, but fell out of favor this year over allegations he was straining the budget to boost his own presidential ambitions.

He is also accused by critics of lack of transparency in handling funds from Venezuela's preferential Petrocaribe fuel program.

Lamothe, 42, had been expected to run for president next year, but his forced resignation may have hampered his chances.

Martelly's decision to sacrifice Lamothe to appease critics also may not be enough for more radical opponents who have vowed not to rest until the president is ousted too.

"There's a general frustration that in some ways Haitian politics seem outside the hands of the Haitian people," said Laurent Dubois, a professor at Duke University and author of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. "The longer there's no elections the more this crisis will build."

If elections are not held before Jan. 12, 2015, the parliament will shut down, leaving Martelly to rule by decree. 

Al Jazeera and wire services

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