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Haiti commission recommends restoring army
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Jan 1, 2012

A presidential commission has backed the restoration of Haiti's army, which was disbanded in the mid-1990s after decades of coups and political sway, President Michel Martelly said Sunday.

"The commission has recommended the creation of a new army that will intervene in cases of natural disaster and work to safeguard our territorial integrity," Martelly said as Haiti celebrated its independence day.

Martelly, whose comments in the coastal city of Gonaives to the north, were shown on state television, said the commission's report would be submitted to other branches of government in the Caribbean nation for their review.

After decades of political interference and dozens of coups, Haiti's military was dissolved by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide after he returned to power in 1994.

But amid all the political turmoil the nation was scarred by brutal militias, which brought terror to the Amercias' poorest nation under various leaders.

And since 2004 Haiti has relied on a UN stabilization mission, MINUSTAH, which was authorized to disarm and demobilize remaining militias.

Since coming to power last year, Martelly has made it clear he wants to see the UN forces -- currently at around 10,500 soldiers and police -- withdrawn from Haiti and has insisted his country needs a "modern" army.

He was expected to announce the relaunching of the army in November, but instead set up the presidential commission.

But some observers argue there are much more pressing priorities for the nation of nine million people, heavily dependent on foreign aid, than building a professional army.

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