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26672: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti-Elections (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 24 (AP) -- The United Nations on Thursday said it
was prepared to provide security for voters in presidential elections
scheduled for next month, noting that violence has ebbed across much of the
The U.N.'s 7,600-strong peacekeeping force has identified the risk level
for each of the more than 800 voting centers so they can provide
appropriate staffing for the Dec. 27 elections, said U.N. spokesman Damian
The U.N. has also trained 3,600 civilians to act as security personnel
at the polls, he said.
Haiti has struggled to organize the election because of a lack of
equipment and trained poll workers, crumbling infrastructure, and violence
that has made it difficult to register voters. The elections were postponed
twice before the latest date was set.
Voters will choose from about 35 candidates for president and hundreds
of candidates for 129 legislative seats.
The U.N. and other international donors are financing more than 95
percent of the $60 million electoral budget. The U.N. troops came to Haiti
in June 2004, four months after a violent rebellion led to the ouster of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Human rights groups say at least 1,500 people have died in violence in
the capital in the past year, much of it blamed on street gangs that
allegedly support Aristide, now in exile in South Africa. Though security
has improved throughout much of Haiti recently, violence persists in the
slums of the capital.