Haiti: UN helps in preparations for legislative elections

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The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is helping the impoverished Caribbean country prepare for upcoming legislative elections, providing secondary support in logistics, security and raising public awareness while leaving the primary organizing role to the national authorities.

"It is the responsibility of the Haitian authorities to organize good elections," Marco Donati, the senor UN official in the southern region told a recent meeting in Les Cayes to encourage the local youth to participate in the polls. "MINUSTAH is merely playing a secondary role in the elections."

The mission is also helping the authorities to maintain a stable political atmosphere conducive to electing the country's legislators, he added.

MINUSTAH has been on the ground in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest. Currently there are more than 9,000 military and police personnel deployed and nearly 2,000 civilian staff.

The mission plays a multi-faceted role, ranging from helping to re-establish security in conjunction with the national police force to humanitarian aid and improvement of infrastructure such as roads and bridges.