Iceland’s embattled prime minister has announced the crisis-hit country will hold early elections on May 9. But Geir Haarde will not try to hang onto his job. He will step down as leader of his Independence Party, telling a news conference he would be seeking surgery abroad for a malignant tumour of the oesophagus.
Wednesday’s attack on the premier’s car by activists throwing eggs is just one of a string of protests over the government’s handling of Iceland’s economic collapse, amid the global financial downturn. Since the crisis broke last year, demonstrators have kept up the pressure on Haarde, demanding his resignation. Some senior figures in his party and Iceland’s Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Gisladottir, who heads the junior party in the ruling coalition, have also called for an early poll. While many protests have been peaceful, tensions have risen at times. This week, police used teargas on demonstrators for the first time since protests greeted Iceland becoming a founding member of NATO in 1949.