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#2861: New U.N. mission takes hold in Haiti (fwd)


WIRE:03/15/2000 16:49:00 ET
 New U.N. mission takes hold in  Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, March 15 (Reuters) - After more than  five years
in Haiti, two U.N. missions, focused on police training and human
rights,ended their stints in the troubled Caribbean nation on Wednesday,
replaced by a single unarmed  mission,U.N. officials said.  The change
comes as Haiti struggles to hold its first national elections in three
years, a key step toward establishing a stable democracy after decades
of dictatorship  and military rule.Election officials set the
long-delayed vote for municipal and legislative posts for April 9, but
President Rene Preval has  not approved the date,leaving the election in
doubt.  The April 9 date is the fourth election date officials have 
set. The others were postponed due to logistics problems making  photo
identification cards for more than 4 million eligible  voters.  


 The U.N. Security Council marked the end of the Haiti  missions by
issuing a statement in New York urging Haitian  authorities to work
together to complete preparations for the  elections as soon as        
possible."The Security Council considers that timely, free and         
fair  elections are crucial to democracy and all aspects of Haiti's 
development," the statement said.The 270-member police mission (MIPONUH)
helped train Haiti's four-year-old civilian police force, formed to
provide security  when the hated army was disbanded. The 30-member
U.N.-Organisation of American States human rights mission 
(MICIVIH),reduced last year from 80 due to lack of funds, also       
ended Wednesday."After five years of the mission, under the rule of the
Security Council, we think there has been a lot of improvement  in
Haiti. It has been decided that the mission should be more  compact,"
Daniel Amiot-Priso, MIPONUH spokesman, said. MICIVIH began monitoring
human rights in Haiti in 1993,  during the reign of a military junta
that ousted  the nation's  first freely elected president,Jean-Bertrand
Aristide. The police mission was established in 1995 after a U.S.-led 
multinational invasion force ended military rule and restored  Aristide
to power.  


  Aristide turned over the presidency to Preval in 1996 but Haiti has
failed to hold legitimate elections since.The new 98-member mission,
called the International Civilian  Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH) will
consist of advisers from  predominantly French-speaking countries -- 31
for human rights, 33 for police and 34 working in justice.Its focus will
be on the economic and political development  of Haiti, the poorest
country in the western hemisphere.MICAH's initial mandate, voted by the
U.N. General Assembly,  is until Feb. 7, 2001, Amiot-Priso said. The   
details of the new  mission are still being worked out.  MICIVIH
executive director Colin Granderson said Haiti's  human rights situation
had improved but the work was hindered by  the ongoing political crisis.
Preval shut down parliament in  January of last year and has been ruling
by decree. "Haiti needs a return to institutional normalcy to be     
able  to move forward, not only on the democratic front, but also on 
the social and economic level," he said.