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Haiti: Ex-Fighters Lay Down Arms

Haiti: UN Announces Start Of Demobilization As Ex-Fighters Lay Down Arms

The United Nations today announced the start of the demobilization process in Haiti, where an initial batch of 325 former members of the country's armed forces laid down their arms in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The ex-fighters -- mostly from Cap-Haïtien, with 45 from other regions -- took part in a solemn ceremony attended by senior government officials as well as the head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Haitian Prime Minister Gérard Latortue called the event "a first step towards national reconciliation" and thanked the UN for its assistance. He stressed that the former combatants were citizens with all due rights and must be treated as such. "The only path to peace is that of elections," he declared.

MINUSTAH chief Juan Gabriel Valdés said that by turning in their weapons, the ex-Army forces renounced a life of illegality. He agreed that the ceremony was a first step which, he said, should serve as an example to former fighters in other regions.

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