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29 July 2004

Spain, Morocco to Supplement U.N. Stabilization Force in Haiti

Additional troops will assist Haitian rebuilding efforts

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The governments of Spain and Morocco have announced that they will send a joint troop force to Haiti in support of a United Nations stabilization mission in the Caribbean country.

In a statement released July 27, Morocco said the joint force would seek to "reinforce dialogue" and help with "concerted action" in the service of regional peace and security in Haiti. Spain said that same day in announcing its troop deployment that it "warmly thanks" the Moroccans for their decision to join the Spanish contingent in Haiti.

The United States and a number of other countries are participating in the stabilization mission in Haiti. Known as MINUSTAH, the U.N. mission took over responsibility in Haiti from a U.S.-led multinational interim peacekeeping force that was sent to the country following the February 29 resignation of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The United Nations hopes that at full strength, MINUSTAH, led by Brazil, will have a force of 6,700 troops and 1,622 civilian police, 548 international civilian personnel, 154 U.N. volunteers, and 995 local civilian staff. More than 15 countries have pledged to contribute military personnel to the mission. Besides Brazil and the United States, other countries from the Americas contributing to the force are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, according to the United Nations.

Among its tasks in Haiti, MINUSTAH aims to establish a secure and stable environment; foster democratic governance and institutional development; assist Haiti's transitional government in organizing free and fair municipal, parliamentary, and presidential elections as soon as possible; strengthen the rule of law; and support the country's human rights institutions and groups.

Meanwhile, the U.N. special representative to Haiti, Juan Valdes, met July 26 with leaders of Haiti's government to discuss issues related to security, humanitarian concerns, development and the electoral process in the country.

The United Nations stated Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue "confirmed his commitment and that of his government not to participate" in Haiti's upcoming elections "in order to guarantee free, honest, and democratic ballots." The organization added that Latortue also repeated his demand for humanitarian support to relieve the suffering of the Haitian people.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said July 20 at an international donors conference for Haiti that the United States will provide the Haitians with a $230 million aid package to be used for job creation and economic growth, budget support to Haitian government ministries, security improvements and judicial reform, support for conducting free and fair elections in the country, and improved health care, nutrition and education activities.

Powell said the $230 million pledge will be offered in addition to the current U.S. contribution to international peacekeeping efforts in Haiti.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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