Haitian Senate fires prime minister over food riots

April 13th, 2008 - 8:19 am ICT by admin  

Port-au-Prince (Haiti), April 13 (DPA) After a week of violent riots against food prices, the Haitian Senate Saturday dismissed Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis. The move came as President Rene Preval announced he would reduce the price of rice by 15 percent to alleviate the social crisis, using international and private assistance to bring down the prices of the staple food product.

In an extraordinary session, the Senate charged that Alexis had failed to give enough attention to the brewing food-price crisis and the needs of the population.

Five people were killed and more than 40 were injured in more than a week of massive protests on the poverty-ridden Caribbean country that shares an island with Dominican Republic. Stores and businesses were plundered, and plush neighbourhoods ransacked.

Preval said international aid and private contributions would help the government reduce the price of rice from $51 to $43 a sack.

Alexis has served as prime minister since May 2006, and from 1999-2001.

Preval defended Alexis, saying the high cost of food was not a problem of the government but part of a worldwide phenomenon. Angry rioters have also demanded that Preval step down.

Some of the violence was directed against the UN stabilization mission in Haiti, which has kept more than 1,000 peacekeepers there since 2004 to help the government to restore order and build democratic institutions.

To help alleviate Haiti’s crisis, Brazil last week sent 14 tonnes of food.

An estimated 70 percent of the country’s 9 million inhabitants live in poverty.

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