|VOICE OF AMERICA|
SLUG: 2-325114 UN / Haiti (L-only)
TITLE=UN / HAITI (L-O)
HEADLINE: Haiti Leader Asks For Tougher UN Peackeeping Mandate
INTRO: Haiti's prime minister has asked the United Nations to toughen its peacekeepers' mandate in light of a fresh wave of violence sweeping his country. VOA's Peter Heinlein reports from U.N. headquarters in New York.
TEXT: Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue told U.N. officials that the eight-thousand peacekeepers sent to his country are not enough. He says the force, known as MINUSTAH, is both too small and too passive in the face of armed gangs, many of them seeking the return of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
"There is a long, long possibility for improvement, improvement of two kinds, quantitative change, imagine we are a population of eight-point-five million, we have only four-thousand police, and with MINUSTAH, seven-thousand military, one-thousand police, whereas all the specialists in the country say for a population that size, we need 40-thousand police officers."
Mr. Latortue made clear he does not expect the U.N. force in Haiti to reach anywhere near 40-thousand in size. Secretary General Annan recommended last month that the force be increased to about nine-thousand soldiers and police officers.
U.S. officials have also suggested dispatching more international troops to Haiti in advance of general elections scheduled for later this year, and giving them a stronger mandate. The U.S. ambassador in Port-au-Prince, James Foley, has criticized the Brazilian-led MINUSTAH force for not being more aggressive in helping police combat armed gangs loyal to Mr. Aristide, who was toppled in an armed uprising early last year.
Aristide sympathizers, in turn, accuse peacekeepers of turning a blind eye to police atrocities against them.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday she is dispatching her top envoy for western hemisphere affairs to Haiti soon to assess needs there.
At a meeting of the Organization of American States in Florida Monday, Ms. Rice called developments in Haiti "troubling" and urged organizations interested in helping the country to take a hard look at whether the force posture is adequate.
Haiti is the western hemisphere's poorest nation, and has been mired in political and economic turmoil for years. (Signed)
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