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U.N. authorizes Haiti mission of 8,000

The U.N. Security Council authorized a wide-ranging mission in Haiti on Friday to replace a much smaller U.S.-led force.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The U.N. Security Council authorized a wide-ranging mission in Haiti with more than 8,000 troops and police Friday, as well as political and human rights experts, to help stabilize the troubled Caribbean nation.

The U.N. mission will start June 1 and will run for six months, but the council said it intended to renew the mandate for further periods, a signal of its agreement with Secretary-General Kofi Annan that a long-term U.N. commitment was essential to turn Haiti into “a functioning democracy.”

The resolution, which the council adopted unanimously, authorized up to 6,700 troops and 1,622 international police, as Annan requested. But U.N. officials have stressed that it will take time to reach those ceilings.

The U.N. military contingent will replace the 3,600-strong U.S.-led multinational force, which was sent to Haiti after a three-week rebellion led the country’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to flee Feb. 29.

U.S. welcomes vote
The resolution commended the rapid deployment of the multinational force — which also includes contingents from Canada, Chile and France — “and the stabilization efforts it has undertaken.”

But “the situation in Haiti continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,” the council said.

Declaring that the United States was “very pleased” with the resolution, U.S. Deputy Ambassador Stuart Holliday said it “will be an important step to get potential troop contributors to come forward.”

Many countries were waiting for a strong statement from the council, and “we think this will help,” he said.

Chile’s U.N. ambassador, Heraldo Munoz, said his country and Brazil would likely contribute troops, along with other Latin American nations. He said there were offers from outside the region, as well, although he would not identify any other countries.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said last week that his country was prepared to take command of the U.N. force and send 1,470 troops if the international community made a commitment to rebuild Haiti.