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Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2008
After storming an old army barracks, hundreds of ex-Haitian soldiers demanded that their force be reinstated
By Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Hundreds of armed former soldiers from Haiti's disbanded army stormed an old barracks and civilian prison on Tuesday to demand the force be reinstated, local radio reported.
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Some members of the long disbanded Haitian army in an undated photo.

Radio Kiskeya said the former troops occupied the buildings in the northern city of Cap-Haitien armed with pistols and wearing camouflage. They reportedly demanded back pay and called for the government bring back the army to provide security against kidnappers.

There were no immediate reports of shots being fired during the takeover of the buildings, which are now used by Haitian government ministries.

The protesters raised a white flag to indicate they did not intend to fight against U.N. peacekeepers or Haitian police, a Radio Kiskeya journalist said from the scene.

Radio reports said hundreds of former soldiers took part in the takeover, but an exact number could not be independently confirmed.

U.N. peacekeepers are monitoring the situation, mission spokesman David Wimhurst said.
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WHAT NATIONAL SECURITY PURPOSE WILL A RETURN OF THE LONG DISBANDED HAITIAN ARMY SERVE?  A U.S. marine, with ease, restraining, with the help of his right knee, a Haitian soldier during the 1994 American occupation of Haiti at the request of then exiled deposed blood thirsty dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide. (Photo wehaitians.com, file)
The Armed Forces of Haiti were disbanded in 1995 by then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been ousted by a military coup four years earlier. Aristide was again toppled by a civilian rebellion in 2004, and a 9,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force has provided the country's only real security ever since.

Last year, President Rene Preval appointed a commission of academics and ex-military officers to study whether a new security force is needed to one day replace the U.N. troops. But he also said in a visit to U.N. headquarters that he saw no reason to restore the army.

Commission head Patrick Elie, a former undersecretary of defense under Aristide, said Tuesday that the commission has not yet reached any conclusions.
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