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29144: Ayiti Chanje (news) Haiti appoints commission to oversee disarmament (fwd)

From: Ayiti Chanje <ayitichanje1804@hotmail.com>

Haiti appoints commission to oversee U.N.-backed gang disarmament
The Associated Press

Published: September 7, 2006

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haiti's government appointed a new commission on Thursday to oversee a U.N.-backed initiative to disarm hundreds of gang members by offering them economic aid and job training.

The seven-member commission will decide who can enter the long-awaited program, which seeks to persuade up to 1,000 rank-and-file gang members to give up their weapons and rejoin society.

Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis told reporters the commission made up of people from various government sectors will replace the one appointed by the 2004-2006 interim government that took power after an armed revolt toppled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

That commission never successfully launched a program to disarm gangs, which are blamed for a surge in kidnappings and other violence in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

"We had a disarmament commission before and the United Nations recognized that it did not produce results," Alexis said.

The new commission's president, Alix Fils-Aime, said the program "will serve as a step forward to end violence."

Fils-Aime, also a Preval adviser, said he did not know what criteria the commission would use to select participants, who will receive ID cards, money, food for their families and job training in exchange for disarming.

Special U.N. Envoy to Haiti Edmond Mulet said this week that top gang leaders and human rights violators wouldn't be eligible for the "Disarm, Demobilize and Reinsertion" program.

Business leaders this week offered tepid support for the plan and urged peacekeepers to forcibly disarm gangs if the bid fails.

The 8,800-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission will launch radio and television ads about the program in coming days.

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