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Haiti Council Set To Choose New Prime Minister - 2004-03-09


Haiti's seven-member council of so-called "wise men" is set to choose a new prime minister today (Tuesday) for the troubled Caribbean nation.

The new prime minister will try to form a transitional government from former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas party and a disparate opposition coalition. Under a U.S.-backed plan, that government would organize new elections.

The new prime minister will replace Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, an Aristide ally.

Monday former Haitian Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre was formally sworn in as Haiti's interim president to replace Mr. Aristide, who resigned and left the country last week.

Meanwhile, a United Nations assessment team is expected to arrive in Haiti today to help prepare for the deployment of UN peacekeepers in the next three months. A UN spokesman says the team will lay the groundwork for a broad UN peacekeeping operation, intended to help Haitians rebuild their country.

The UN 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.

One of the assement 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.

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

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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