As a presidential candidate, Haitian President Michel Martelly campaigned on kicking out the United Nations blue helmet force that had been patrolling his nation’s streets since a 2004 political crisis caused violent protests.
Now charged with overseeing three elections in six months, Martelly on Wednesday pleaded with the U.N. Security Council for the peacekeepers to stay, hoping to delay a planned reduction of the 5,021 troops.
“The timetable for the withdrawal should be reassessed,” Haiti’s U.N. Ambassador Denis Regis said during the four-hour discussion on the scheduled reduction and reconfiguration of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH.
“At the same time,” Regis added, “the Haitian government would appreciate there be a bolstered (U.N.) police presence as well as a bolstered presence on the ground for increased support for the Haitian National Police and stronger participation in the daily task of security and protection of civilians.”
Martelly’s change of heart comes amid a resurgence in violence after months of relative stability, and growing concerns that the tense electoral period could trigger another crisis.
Security Council members, who reviewed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on Haiti, did not vote on the request, but they commended Haiti for setting a date for the long-delayed elections, and in improving its national police.