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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Several thousand supporters of Haitian opposition factions marched through the capital's congested streets Friday chanting calls for the president's removal amid political uncertainty accompanying the dissolution of parliament.
Blowing horns made of scrap metal, protesters passed through a cluster of poor neighborhoods around downtown Port-au-Prince as they built up their numbers on their way toward the former National Palace, which crumbled in Haiti's 2010 earthquake.
Many carried photos of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and declared allegiance to the Fanmi Lavalas party founded by the popular but also polarizing figure.
"If Aristide were in power we Haitians could get things accomplished. But Haiti is not united now and the international community is trying to control what happens here," said Isme Dessaline, an unemployed tailor who fastened a dozen small pictures of the twice-elected, twice-deposed Aristide to his dreadlocks.
The mostly peaceful march was the latest in a series of demonstrations demanding President Michel Martelly leave office before his term expires next year. Like most other recent anti-government protests, this one was dispersed by riot police with tear gas and water sprayed from an armored vehicle near barricades set up to prevent marchers from reaching the palace site's gates.
Haiti is operating without a sitting parliament in large part because a group of six opposition lawmakers blocked legislation authorizing parliamentary elections before the terms of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies expired Monday, ending a bitter political deadlock with Martelly, who took office in 2011.
Evans Paul, a veteran politician who is Haiti's new prime minister, was expected to be formally installed later in the day. Paul, who was in the moderate opposition before being nominated last month to be the No. 2 official in Martelly's administration, says the government is working to hold long-delayed legislative and municipal elections.
During a Wednesday interview with The Associated Press, Paul said a new electoral council would be in place within two weeks to start organizing the vote delayed for over three years. Presidential elections are also due this year.
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