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UN delegation pushes for Haitian stability
Associated Press
2009-03-12 10:00 AM
A U.N. Security Council delegation began a four-day mission Wednesday in Haiti to encourage stability and economic progress weeks ahead of a critical donor conference and long-delayed Senate elections.

The 15-member group will meet with President Rene Preval, lawmakers, election officials and the private sector. It will continue efforts to increase investment and prevent chaos that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former President Bill Clinton promoted during a visit earlier this week.

The visit is meant to show the support of the international community and Security Council, Costa Rican permanent representative Jorge Urbina said at an airport press conference.

The group arrived in the impoverished country at a time of relative political calm, thanks in large part to a 9,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force that has been in place since 2004 _ the fifth such mission since 1993.

But concerns about backsliding remain as supporters of disqualified candidates threaten to prevent voting in an upcoming April 19 Senate election.

Many Haitians also are frustrated with what some perceive as Preval's slow response to poverty and soaring living costs, especially after four tropical storms and hurricanes killed nearly 800 people last year and ravaged the economy.

Rumblings of unrest surfaced Wednesday.

As the delegation flew to Haiti, assailants torched a U.N. vehicle at Haiti's state university in Port-au-Prince. Witnesses say the SUV was pelted with rocks and its civilian driver and passenger fled before it was set on fire.

Education students later clashed with police as they threw rocks and glass bottles and barricaded the street with burning tires and school desks. They continue to protest the removal of math and science classes from the teaching school's curriculum.

No injuries were reported.

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