Haiti’s Prime Minister Resigns Amid Deadly Protests

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(CNN) — Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned Saturday amid violent and deadly protests sparked by a proposed plan to raise fuel prices, according to President Jovenel Moise.

Lafontant resigned before Parliament, which was due to host a vote of no confidence, Yves Germain Joseph, the general secretary of the National Palace, told CNN.

Lafontant, who took office in February 2017, informed Moise of his resignation by letter. Moise accepted the resignation, Joseph said.

Moise said on Twitter he would address the country Saturday night “in a special edition on the National Television of Haiti.”

“I take this opportunity to thank Mr. Lafontant and the members of the cabinet for the services rendered to the nation,” Moise said on Twitter.

The controversial plan to raise fuel prices would increase the cost of gasoline by 38%, diesel by 47% and kerosene by 51%.

Since the protests started last week, two people — a police officer and social leader — were killed, Joseph said.

Stranded Americans

Missionary groups from Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina were stranded in Haiti until Monday after protesters took to the streets following the fuel price hike.

American Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit Airlines also canceled flights to Haiti last week because of the protests.

One group said burning barricades prevented them from reaching the airport in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

Jody Flowers, the lead minister from Chapin United Methodist Church, in South Carolina, was stranded with 13 members of his church until they returned Monday. Despite the violent demonstrations, Flowers expressed some sympathy for the protesters.

“When you think about the fact that some Haitians make just $5 a week and the government wants to increase the price of gasoline by 38% that in and of itself points to the reason for the unrest,” he said. “Our hearts are just broken for the people out there and we’re just thankful for our group, which has a lot of love and hope and a desire to help out however they can.”

A security alert from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti on Saturday said it was open for routine and emergency services for U.S. citizens, but it issued a number of alerts about specific demonstrations and urged citizens to avoid those areas.

The U.S. State Department still advises against travel to Haiti because of civil unrest and crime.

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