U.N. Troops Out In Six Out Of 10 Departments By Election Time

Haitian government and local election authorities have expressed their concerns over security on U.N decision to withdraw U. N Troops from six of the 10 departments in the country, including the Northeast, Northwest, Central, Grand'Anse, Nippes and Southeast. They are fearing this could undermine the process of presidential, legislative and municipal elections. The MINUSTAH has undertaken a staged withdrawal of soldiers over the next two years and has plans to deploy troops only in the North, Antibonite, South and West departments. Recently, on Monday, March 16, President Martelly has announced August 9 and October 25 as the scheduled dates for country's long overdue legislative and municipal elections, as well as the next presidential election. Elections for two-thirds of the Senate will be held on August 9 as well as the entire lower chamber of deputies. The presidential election will be held on October 25, with a presidential runoff, if necessary, on December 27. Fritz Jean-Louis, the Haitian minister responsible for election-related matters, has said that it is not only a matter of worries for the Haitian government alone, but it is equally a matter of concern for several countries and other partners helping the country's election process. However, this withdrawal could have happened in a manner that would allow to overcome our shortcomings.

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Denis Regis, the Haitian Ambassador to U.N has also said that the timetable for withdrawal should be reassessed. It has been observed in the past few years that U.N security has played a crucial role in maintaining peace and security in the country. However, François Delattre, France's permanent representative to the U.N and President of the Security Council has said it is the right time to show the reflection of a Haiti after MINUSTAH. The United Kingdom Ambassador Martin Shearman has also said that, our support of the drawdown is the evidence of our confidence in the Haitian National Police.

It is a fact that Haitian police has shown many signs of improvement under MINUSTAH, but still they continue to need operational supports from them. The country has remained susceptible to unpredictable crime rates-- while kidnapping has decreased by 74%, the number of rapes and homicides have increased by 24% as armed gangs fight for control of neighborhoods.

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