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#1081: U.N. To Shut Down Haiti Mission (fwd)


Tuesday November 23 2:01 AM ET 
 U.N. To Shut Down Haiti Mission
 By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer 

 UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United Nations is preparing to shut down its
civilian police mission in Haiti and replace it with a broader new
program to help the country rebuild its fragile democracy and encourage
longer-term international support. The transition comes at a delicate
time for Haiti, which has scheduled legislative elections for March that
many hope will end more than two years of political crisis. It also
comes as the United States is preparing to withdraw its own 450
full-time troops in Haiti - the remnants of the 20,000-strong
intervention force sent in 1994 to return to power democratically
elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, three years after he was
ousted in a coup. Those troops will eventually be replaced by rotating
U.S. units. This week, the Security Council is expected to begin
considering a draft resolution that would allow for the U.N. Civilian
 Police Mission in Haiti, known as MIPONUH, to remain in the country for
another three months in a transition phase, Western diplomats said
Monday. That force, which has been training the young Haitian National
Police since 1997, would be terminated early next year and
 incorporated into a new, broader mission under consideration in the
General Assembly. In a letter released Monday, Haitian President Rene
Preval said he wanted the new force to be neither uniformed nor armed.
 The new umbrella operation, with a yearlong mandate, would cover
civilian police, human rights and judicial reform and would work in
tandem with a recently approved, long-term development and international
assistance program for Haiti, diplomats and U.N. officials said Monday.
 Funding for the new umbrella mission would presumably come from the
regular U.N. budget - not the U.N. peacekeeping account - although cost
details haven't yet been worked out, U.N. officials said, speaking on
condition of anonymity. The mandate for the existing U.N. civilian
police mission expires Nov. 30. The mandate for the human rights
mission, which would also be absorbed into the broader operation, runs
out Dec. 31. Russia and China have objected to the Haiti civilian police
mission in the past on the grounds that the turmoil in the Caribbean
 country doesn't represent a regional threat. But both appear to be on
board with the proposal to extend the police mission into early next
year in preparation for the handover, diplomats said. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan stressed in a report Monday the need for a smooth transition,
urging world governments not to abandon Haiti in the crucial next few
 ``The termination of the mandate of MIPONUH will mark the end of United
Nations peacekeeping in Haiti,'' Annan said. ``However, it is important
that the international community continue to be present in the country
to assist the government in the process of democratization.'' That
process ground to a virtual halt in 1997, when Prime Minister Rosny
Smarth resigned to protest what he said was Preval's complicity in
tainted legislative elections. In a bid to end the crisis, Preval shut
down Parliament in January and appointed a new prime minister and
elections council by decree. The more than two years of turmoil has
prevented millions of dollars in foreign aid from reaching Haiti,
weakened confidence in both domestic and foreign investors and increased
insecurity among most Haitians. At a forum last week at the United
Nations, a member of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce, Rosny Desroches,
warned U.N. officials of the toll such political and economic turmoil
has taken on the country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
 ``I hope the representatives of the United Nations will notice the kind
of danger, the kind of risk, that is pending on Haitian democracy,''
Desroches said in urging continued international support.