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Clashes as Haiti's pop star-turned-president marks three years in power

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Clashes between protesters and police marked Haitian President Michel Martelly’s three years in power Wednesday, with at least one person shot in the confrontations.

While Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe appealed for calm, a gas station went up in flames as demonstrators denounced perceived abuse and corruption in the poverty-stricken Caribbean country.

Calling for Martelly’s resignation, opponents gathered near the presidential palace in the capital Port-au-Prince, where supporters of the singer-turned-head of state had assembled for a concert.

At least one person suffered gunshot wounds during clashes between protesters and police elsewhere.

“We can’t go back to the politics of the past. We need to create jobs and change the living conditions for the population,” Lamothe said as he urged restraint.

Amid pressure from the international community, the Haitian government has committed to holding long overdue legislative and municipal elections in late October.

Haiti’s President Michel Martelly: no longer “Sweet Micky”?

John Thys/AFP

The date was set after an agreement brokered by the country’s Catholic Church. While welcomed by the international community, Haiti’s main opposition parties have rejected the deal.

The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere has long suffered from political deadlock.

Bitter disagreements between politicians have threatened already painfully slow reconstruction following a devastating earthquake in January 2010 that killed around a quarter of a million people.

Four years on, hundreds of thousands are still living in squalid makeshift camps.

Martelly has faced protests over the slow pace of rebuilding.

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Michel Nau

Haiti’s President Michel Martelly is still “Sweet Mickey” for the majority of Haitians. Rayi chien, mais di dent li blanc! As a novice in politics he is doing a tremendous job compere to those who came before him. His government is soft and open for constructive criticisms. He has done what others will dare doing; letting notorious individuals like Jean Claude Duvalier, Jean Bertrand Aristide live freely and breathing the same air. These protestors are just peons and foot soldiers paid to make a living without knowing the consequences of their actions. Having said that, the real promoters should be tracked down, prosecuted, and reimbursed businesses for lost caused by these disturbances.

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