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UN to stay one more year in Haiti

Friday, October 12, 2012 | 6:26 PM    

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UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The UN Security Council on Friday renewed a one-year mandate for its peacekeeping mission in Haiti, though with a staff reduction and focus on training police in the country.

In line with a recommendation from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the 15-member council cut the mission’s staff from 7,340 to 6,270 and reduced its police force from 3,241 to 2,601.

“In the framework of the improvement of the rule of law in Haiti, strengthening the capacity of the Haitian National Police is paramount,” the council said in the resolution extending the mission — known by its acronym MINUSTAH — until October 15, 2013.

It stressed the need to provide skilled trainers and technical advisers, as well as to renew efforts to mentor and train police and prison personnel.

The council also hailed political development and stabilisation in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas, in the wake of a January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 225,000 people, destroyed much of the capital Port-au-Prince and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

“Haiti continued to make considerable strides since the tragic earthquake of 12 January 2010 and achieved, over the past year, a number of political milestones indicative of progress in the process of stabilisation,” it said.

Guatemalan UN Ambassador Gert Rosenthal, who leads the Security Council this month, said last week that the unanimous support for extending the mission was a recognition of Haiti’s “progress” in forming a new government.

A new Haitian government led by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe took up duties in May, capping a months-long political vacuum in the troubled nation.

President Michel Martelly, inaugurated a year earlier, had lacked a cabinet chief since Garry Conille resigned in February.

Lamothe, 40, says he is basing his government policies on fighting extreme poverty and protecting the environment.

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