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6459: FWD - U.N. Secretary-General recommends ending mission in Haiti (fwd)
U.N. Secretary-General recommends ending mission in Haiti
By Don Bohning
Knight Ridder Newspapers
MIAMI - After nearly 10 years of intense international involvement in Haiti,
the United Nations is calling for an end to a special U.N. civilian-advisory
mission to the impoverished Caribbean nation, even as it predicts a worsening
political and economic situation.
A report by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommends that the mandate of
the U.N.'s International Civilian Mission to Haiti (MICAH) not be renewed
after it expires on Feb. 6. The move would mark a significant shift in
outside efforts to restore democracy in Haiti that have occurred since the
1991 military coup that ousted then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Annan's report was issued the same week that Aristide and his Family Lavalas
party were returned to power by election. But the man once viewed as Haiti's
best hope for political renewal is now viewed with suspicion, the report said.
Annan cited as a "disturbing element" of Haiti's political polarization, "the
widely held perception among opponents of Family Lavalas, shared by many
former supporters, that the party might establish a dictatorial and
repressive regime" when Aristide returns to the presidency.
"On the other hand," the report noted, "it is very evident that Mr. Aristide
enjoys the loyalty of broad sections of the urban and rural poor."
According to official returns, Aristide won 92 percent of the vote in an
election boycotted by the opposition.
Annan's report comes after a prolonged but unsuccessful effort by Luigi
Einaudi, assistant secretary-general of the Organization of American States,
to negotiate an end to the feud between Aristide's party and its political
"Since mid-July," Annan noted, "Haiti's political and electoral crisis has
deepened, polarizing its political class and civil society, jeopardizing its
international relations, sapping an already declining economy and adding to
the hardship of the impoverished majority."
"In the absence of any solution to the crisis, popular discontent seems
likely to mount in response to rising prices and increasing poverty, and may
lead to further turmoil," Annan wrote in the report to the U.N. General
Over the past decade, the efforts of the international community to aid Haiti
have included a 1994 U.S.-led military invasion that ousted the military
regime that toppled Aristide and various special OAS and U.N. human-rights
monitoring and technical-assistance missions.
"I think it is a clear report that draws well-substantiated conclusions,"
Michel Duval, Canada's deputy U.N. ambassador and point-man for the Friends
of Haiti (the United States, Canada, France, Argentina, Chile and Venezuela),
said in an interview.
"You can sense in the text the level of frustration that the United Nations
has," observed Georges Fauriol, director of the Americas Program at the
Center for Strategic Studies, a moderately conservative Washington think
tank. Fauriol also is informally associated with the Bush campaign's Latin
America policy team.
"The mid- to long-term implications are that the next U.S. administration is
going to have Haiti on its agenda, unfortunately, whether it wants to or
not," said Fauriol.