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25286: Severe(publish):AFP (Haitian PM Calls For Talks With UN Before Mandate Extended (fwd)
From: Constantin Severe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) 6/2/05 - Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue called on
the United Nations to re-examine its peacekeepers' mandate after a fresh wave
of violence in Haiti, suggesting their presence was inadequately geared to
helping Haiti's plight.
Latortue also hit out at the United States for deporting criminals to Haiti
once they had served sentence in the United States, saying he plans to ask
Washington to suspend repatriations until the situation in Haiti stabilizes.
"We can't have all these (UN) troops in the country and witness the
deterioration of the situation," Latortue told reporters.
"Before the extension of the mission's mandate (at the end of June) we will go
next week to New York to make contact with the UN secretary general Kofi
Annan and the Security Council," he said.
Latortue's comments came amid controversy at the United Nations over how long
an extension of UN peacekeepers may be granted, with China opposed to a year's
extensions, mainly due to tensions over friendly relations between Haiti and
China's rival Taiwan.
Numerous critiques of peacekeepers' efforts have been launched, amid claims
that UN troops have failed to intervene in violence targeting Haitian police.
"What is the point of deploying" often French-speaking troops "in regions where
nothing is going on, where there is no problem, when in Port-au-Prince where
there are lots of problems there are no troops deployed?" asked Latortue.
"The question of how they are distributed needs re-examining," he said.
The UN peacekeeping force in Haiti, MINUSTAH, has 6,700 troops, and an
international police force of 1,622.
In the Haitian capital, some 2,000 peacekeepers are present, with backup
announced this week of a batallion that has been serving in Jacmel in the
At a news conference, Haiti's Justice Minister Bernard Gousse also called for a
"permanent presence of MINUSTAH at police stations and in troublespots" in the
Latortue suggested Haitians recently repatriated from the United States were
among the culprits for a wave of kidnappings in recent weeks.
He called them "criminals, professional hitmen who become kidnappers" once in
Oftentimes the most problematic individuals are people who were "not born in
Haiti but whose parents are Haitian," he said.
It is in the United States "where they have learned to be criminals," he said.
And while the United States deports such individuals to Haiti where they cannot
be expected to serve a second sentence, Washington calls on their
"non-essential (diplomatic) personnel to leave" the country, Latortue charged.
Violence this week saw the shooting to death of the French honorary consul, and
the killing of at least 10 people in an arson and firearms attack in Haiti's
capital, police said.
The attack on the market and on a police station nearby also wounded four
police, one of them seriously, police spokeswoman Gessie Coicou said.
The market is close to the Cite Soleil shantytown of 300,000 people, a
stronghold of supporters of Jean Bertrand Aristide, who resigned as president
and fled the country in February 2004.
A group of Brussels-based crisis experts this week called the security
situation in Haiti "explosive", saying that pushing for elections scheduled for
late 2005 is "perhaps overly ambitious."
Meanwhile, the United Nations, struggling to agree a new longer-term mandate
for its 7,400-strong peacekeeping force here, in a stop-gap measure Tuesday
renewed its mandate for 24 more days.