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UN chief voices cautious optimism over Haiti's future

3 September 2009 – There is substantial reason to believe Haiti is moving away from its past of conflict towards a brighter future of peaceful development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report released today, while cautioning that progress remains fragile and highly prone to reversals.

Among the improvements in Haiti, Mr. Ban noted that increased political cooperation led to the holding of senatorial elections earlier this year, the adoption of key legislation – including a significant increase of the minimum wage – and the pursuit of an inclusive political dialogue on a number of major issues facing the country.

The Secretary-General stressed that the sustained commitment of the Haitian politicians and people, as well as the United Nations and international community more generally, is key for the consolidation of stability in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

“It is incumbent upon Haiti’s leaders, who have helped to create an opportunity for historic change, to continue their efforts to identify broadly supported solutions to the problems facing the country,” Mr. Ban said in his latest report on the UN mission there, known as MINUSTAH.

The Secretary-General spotlighted the need to strengthen State institutions and constitutional reform among the current challenges.

“Further efforts to curb corruption and impunity are also critical,” stressed Mr. Ban, adding that an effective response “to violent incidents during the elections of 19 April would help to shore up public confidence in the democratic process.”

His report underscored the critical contribution MINUSTAH and the UN Country Team can make to stability in Haiti, especially as the emergent Haitian police force is still strengthening.

Mr. Ban recommended a 12-month extension of the mission’s mandate, through 15 October 2010, with some adjustments to enable it to deploy rapidly and to monitor remote locations, such as border areas and the country’s coastline.

“The maintenance of a substantial international military and police presence on the ground, at a level similar to that currently deployed, remains essential,” said Mr. Ban.

He added that one quarter of the mission’s armoured personnel carrier capability could be replaced with lighter patrol vehicles, permitting a reduction of some 120 troops to bring the total military strength down to 6,940.


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