UN leaves police trainers in Haiti for another year
By a 13-0 vote, with Russia and China abstaining, the council adopted a
resolution to keep the 285-member U.N. force in Haiti until Nov. 30, 1999.
The officers have been training Haiti's 3-year-old reconstituted national
police force and includes 145 police from 11 countries and a special
140-member security unit provided by Argentina.
Russia and China objected to keeping the police force under the Security
Council's peacekeeping operations, saying the council promised a year ago
that the venture would end in 1998.
But they said they did not use their veto to kill the resolution because
needs of the Haitian people. Both nations abstained from a vote on the
U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh said the decision to extend the U.N.
Civilian Police Mission in Haiti, known as MIPONUH, was necessary
because of the country's fragile democracy.
"We remain concerned with the present political impasse in Haiti," he told
"By withdrawing MIPONUH prematurely, before an adequate transition
mechanism is readied and at a time when Haitian democracy is fragile, we
would have jeopardized the very real achievements made by the Haitian
National Police," he said.
In Haiti, some members of parliament have objected strongly to any foreign
armed personnel in Haiti. But Haitian President Rene Preval officially
requested the international police in the country.
The police are the remainder of a 6,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force
that came to Haiti in March 1995. It replaced a 22,000-strong U.S.-led
force that a restored civilian government from a military dictatorship in 1992.
At that time, China and Russia also objected to the force. China protested
Haiti's ties to Taiwan, which its considers a renegade province.
Russia objected to peacekeepers in the U.S. sphere of influence when the
council had rejected Moscow's requests for forces in the former Soviet
republics of Georgia and Tajikistan.
Russian envoy Yuri Fedotov noted to reporters that the council had decided
five times in the past to conclude the operation and transfer its main functions
to U.N. development and humanitarian projects, which could include police
assistance. But each time the council made an about face and permitted the
police operation to continue, he said.
Copyright 1998 Reuters.