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25345: (news) Chamberlain: Peacekeepers to confront Haiti violence-UN official (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, June 9 (Reuters) - U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti
will crack down on violence that threatens elections this year, a U.N.
official said on Thursday after a visit by a high-level contingent of
foreign officials to the troubled Caribbean nation.
Haiti has been plagued by political and gang violence since the bloody
rebellion that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide last year.
"To those who want to foil the electoral process and to those who
believe they can achieve their goals only through violence, those who want
to kill hope, I tell them clearly that they don't have any chance to
succeed," said Juan Gabriel Valdes, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, at a
news conference following the visit.
"The will of MINUSTAH (the U.N. mission) to confront the violence is
there and will be there until those armed groups that have launched
organized violence have been eliminated," he said.
A top elections official suggested last week that presidential,
legislative and municipal elections scheduled for late this year should be
postponed due to the violence and lagging voter registration.
Organizers had hoped to register 4.5 million voters between April 25
and July 31, but as of last week only 72,000 had been registered.
Still, Haiti's interim prime minister, Gerard Latortue, told the U.N.
Security Council this week that the vote will take place as scheduled.
Officials from Brazil, France, Canada and United States, including
Roger Noriega, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere
affairs, visited Haiti on Thursday to assess conditions in the nation of 8
The United Nations sent peacekeepers to Haiti to support Latortue's
interim government after Aristide was tossed out by former soldiers and
armed gangs on Feb. 29, 2004. He fled into exile.
Latortue has criticized the U.N. mission for failing to halt the
violence, which has killed hundreds of people.
The U.N. mission now numbers 6,200 troops and nearly 1,300 civilian
police. Valdes said 200 Paraguayan troops would soon join the mission. U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended an additional 750 soldiers and
275 police officers.
"There are criminal gangs that are trying to undermine the democratic
transition and the international community must react today if we wish to
make a difference," Noriega said.