Iceland PM to quit, calls early polls .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} REYKJAVIK - Icelandic Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced on Friday that he intended to step down and said he wanted an early election to be held on May 9 after the island’s financial collapse sparked weeks of protests.

He told a news conference a medical examination had last week revealed he had a malignant tumor of the oesophagus and he would seek surgery abroad at the end of January or early February. An election would not normally be held until 2011. The global financial crisis hit Iceland, population 320,000, in October, triggering a collapse in its currency and financial system under the weight of billions of dollars of foreign debts incurred by its banks.

On Thursday, police used teargas on demonstrators for the first time since protests against the North Atlantic island's entry into the NATO alliance in 1949. Protests had been held weekly since the crisis broke last year, but since Tuesday have been held every night. Police said the latest demonstrations overnight had been peaceful.