Haiti prime minister 'ready to resign,' president says

A member of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) fires his gun against demonstrators during clashes in a protest against the government of President Michel Martelly in Port-au-Prince, on December 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal) (AFP)

Port-au-Prince (AFP) - Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is ready to resign to help end the country's political impasse, President Michel Martelly said in the face of widespread government protests.

"The prime minister is ready to resign," Martelly said in a national address.

"I acknowledge this decision he is making to help find a solution to the crisis. I commend him for his courage and determination to help Haiti."

The president did not specify whether Lamothe would be leaving his post.

An advisory commission set up by the president recommended this week that Lamothe resign as anti-government protests have deepened the nation's political crisis over a failure to hold parliamentary elections in the last three years.

The commission also recommended disbanding Haiti's electoral council and freeing political prisoners.

During his address, Martelly said he accepted the commission's proposals and would work to implement them quickly.

Martelly said meetings would begin on the issues Monday.

Protests against Lamothe and Martelly turned violent earlier as police officers and UN peacekeepers fired tear gas at demonstrators who tried to march on the presidential palace.

In the latest of a number of demonstrations, several thousand opposition supporters marched in downtown Port-au-Prince before being dispersed by tear gas grenades.

Martelly's foes accuse him of returning Haiti to dictatorial rule.

Parliament's mandate expires in January, leaving Martelly to rule by decree.

Opposition parties have condemned any move allowing the president to rule by decree and their leaders have met with US diplomats over seeking an end to Martelly's rule.