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UN Increases Patrols in Haiti Ahead of Presidential Elections


The United Nations has increased patrols in Haiti ahead of Tuesday's presidential and parliamentary elections.

The 9,000-strong force of soldiers and police stepped up the patrols Saturday, as candidates wrapped up campaigning.

Opinion polls indicate former President Rene Preval leads more than 30 other presidential hopefuls. If no one wins at least 50 percent of the vote, a second round will take place March 19 between the two top vote-getters.

Schools are closed in the impoverished Caribbean nation ahead of the elections, which have been postponed several times amid security and logistical concerns.

American Airlines canceled flights for Monday and Tuesday to and from Haiti in an effort to protect travelers and employees during the election period. U.N. officials have said rapid deployment forces will be ready to quell any election-day violence.

Criminal gangs and violence have flourished in Haiti since 2004, when then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled the country amid an armed uprising.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.