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Haitian President Urges Donors to Speed Up Promised Aid Donations

President of Haiti René Préval speaks during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Haiti, Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at United Nations headquarters.

Outgoing Haitian President René Préval is urging donor countries to act quicker in disbursing the billions of dollars promised to Haiti for its recovery and reconstruction from last year’s massive earthquake. With little more than a month left in office, Préval took some parting shots at the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, criticizing the 15-members for not quickly shifting the U.N. mission there from a peacekeeping one to one focused on development and peace building.

President Préval acknowledged that there has been tremendous instability in his tiny Caribbean country over the past quarter century, noting that he is the only president in that time to complete two terms without being jailed or exiled.

He said the presence of U.N. peacekeepers, currently about 12,000 soldiers and police, has been necessary because of military coups and internal fighting among armed groups. But he said there has been 11 years of military presence in a country with no actual war.

"But the danger of violent confrontation, once it had passed, peacekeeping operations did not quickly enough adapt to the new situation," Preval said.

He said instability in Haiti is basically due to under-development.

"Tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers should have given way to bulldozers, engineers, more police instructors, experts in support to justice and to the penitentiary system," he said.

The U.N. mission, known by its acronym MINUSTAH, is mandated to assist the Haitian government, not only with immediate recovery, reconstruction and stability efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake, but also to provide specialized support in institution-building and with the just-completed national elections.

Reconstruction after last year’s earthquake is estimated to need 10 years and cost $11.5 billion. Last March, the international community pledged more than $5 billion for reconstruction costs over the next two years.

The U.N. Secretary-General’s special envoy for Haiti, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, warned that little more than a third of that money has been paid, and that is impeding progress.

"Now that we’ve had this election, and the international community has accepted the results and verified and participated in the oversight of it, I think greater donor disbursements are important. They go a long way toward speeding up the reconstruction and delivering other improvements," Clinton said.

On Monday, the results of Haiti’s presidential election were announced. Singer Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly beat former first lady Mirlande Manigat. Martelly is due to be inaugurated next month.