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UN Assessment Team To Prepare For Haiti Peacekeeping Force - 2004-03-09

A United Nations assessment team is expected to arrive in Haiti Tuesday to help prepare for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers by June 1.

A U.N. spokesman says the team will spend the next three months laying the groundwork for the broad U.N. peacekeeping operation, intended to help Haiti rebuild following last week's resignation and departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

One of the team's first tasks will be to help Secretary-General Kofi Annan make recommendations by the end of the month on the size and composition of the mission, in terms of troops, police, political staff and others.

The U.N. Security Council authorized the peacekeeping mission in a resolution adopted March first. It is to take over from the U.S.-led multi-national force that began building up in Haiti last week.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says it will launch what it called a 'Flash Appeal' for humanitarian aid for Haiti today.

Former Haitian Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre was formally sworn in Monday as the country's interim president. Mr. Alexandre called for reconciliation and new elections. He also condemned attacks on demonstrators that took place outside the National Palace Sunday in which six people were killed.

Officials in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, say the so-called seven-member "council of wise men" is close to choosing a replacement for Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, an Aristide ally. The new prime minister will serve until elections can be held.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said Monday that if Mr. Aristide really wants to serve his country, he will let Haiti get on with its future and not try to stir up the past. His comments followed Mr. Aristide's repeated claims that he was abducted by U.S. forces - an accusation U.S. officials strongly deny.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.