Brazilian General Says International Troops Will Stay Three More Years in Haiti

Brazilian troops, which make up the multinational United Nations peace keeping contingent, will remain in Haiti until that country so decides, said Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

"We’re subordinate to United Nations, we’re subordinate to the sovereignty of the Haitian people, to the government of Haiti", remarked Lula da Silva in his weekly radio broadcast.

"When they tell us, "that’s it, no more", in peace with our consciences we will return to Brazil having accomplished our duty", added the president.

Lula da Silva revealed he had a four hours chat last Saturday, March 11, with elected Haitian president René Préval when they flew together to Chile for the inauguration of President Michelle Bachelet.

It was then that President Préval "specifically told me that the (Brazilian) troops in Haiti under UN command will only leave when he’s able to set up the law and order structure, because we can’t leave a vacuum".

MINUSTAH, or the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, created by the Security Council in 2004 and made up of 7.500 soldiers and 1.700 policemen, including 1.100 Brazilians is under the command of a Brazilian general.

Elected president Préval has anticipated that he would request UN for the troops to remain but "reformulating" the Security Council mandate. Apparently Mr. Préval would like to see more policemen, less military, and help to set up an efficient court system.

Last week Brazilian General Jose Elito Carvalho Siqueira, commander of MINUSTAH told the Brazilian press "peace keeping troops would have to remain in Haiti for another two to three years".

"Although the political situation has improved since the election of president Préval, the instability of the last few years still prevails in many areas of the country", said General Carvalho Siqueira.

"We won’t be leaving in the short term. There might be a change of countries in the UN mission, which is natural, but there’s still much ahead and time is needed for a structured Haiti police force to take over law and order", he added.

"The Haiti people and Brazilian military actually get along very well. They admire our professional competence and have a good opinion of Brazilians", said the general who anticipated the great security challenge ahead will be the inauguration of President Préval in the second half of April.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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