By JONATHAN M. KATZ � 23 hours ago
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) � Haiti’s internal security has improved but remains fragile because of rampant poverty, rising kidnappings and a weak government, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report released Wednesday.
Ban suggested U.N. peacekeepers should remain in Haiti after their current mandate ends in October, warning against a “premature disengagement” followed by a “rapid reversal of all that has been achieved.”
The multinational force, which now numbers about 9,000 troops and police, has been in place since a 2004 rebellion ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The mission will cost member states $535 million over the current year, Ban said.
Though economic growth had returned to a pre-rebellion level of 3.2 percent, Ban warned that most Haitians were not reaping the benefits and that some could again turn to violence.
He cited an uptick in anti-government demonstrations throughout the country, in which students and other demonstrators have burned cars and clashed with police over rising food prices.
The high cost of living also helped lead to an attempt by lawmakers to oust Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis in February. Though the no-confidence vote failed, the fact that Alexis was summoned at all underscored the fragility of the current government, Ban said.
The report noted that the reconstituting Haitian national police force has slightly more than 7,000 members handling full-time policing duties, half the minimum number the U.N. says will be necessary to take over basic policing from peacekeepers.