UN approves US-led force for Haiti
The U.N. Security Council on Sunday approved the deployment of a multinational force to restore order in Haiti after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned in the face of an armed rebellion.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council called on all sides in the conflict to cease all violence and authorized the force to help "contribute to a secure and stable environment" across Haiti for up to three months, after which a follow-up U.N. stabilization force would take over.
The United States and France have already ordered troops to the Caribbean nation as part of the international force, and other governments including Canada and Brazil are also expected to contribute soldiers, U.N. diplomats said.
The council said it acted after receiving an appeal for "the urgent support of the international community to assist in restoring peace and security in Haiti" from Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre, sworn in on Sunday as Haiti's new leader following the resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
While awaiting the troops' arrival, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan counseled Haiti's people "to remain calm, to work with the new president, and to think of their country and their future, not individual ambitions. And to those likely to commit human rights violations, that they will be held individually accountable."
Initially, U.S. and French troops are to make up the bulk of the force in Haiti, which is several hundred miles from Florida and is the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.
With Aristide gone, U.S. President Bush had appealed to the people of Haiti to halt the violence and said the United States was prepared to help start "a new chapter in the country's history."
Minutes after that announcement, a Haitian rebel leader told CNN, "We don't intent to fight anymore," and welcomed Bush's decision to send in the Marines.
In Ottawa, Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham called the shift in power "a constitutional transition."
"Clearly we want to establish that that will be the transition, that there won't be one of these armed gangs or somebody else that decides they would like to take over," Graham said.
New Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin was due to visit the United Nations on Monday and Graham said he was likely to discuss a possible Canadian contribution to the planned international force.
Aristide, 50, whose role in a popular uprising that ended decades of dictatorship in the 1980s once made him a hero of Haitian democracy, left early Sunday morning, 24 days after the uprising began.