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UN's force commander in Haiti found dead

UN's force commander in Haiti found dead, circumstances under investigation

As investigators began probing the death of the senior military official leading the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Haiti, a 58-year old Brazilian general who was found dead today in Port au Prince, UN officials praised his legacy of peace.

In New York, a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the death of Lieutenant-General Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar, Force Commander of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), who was discovered in his accomodations.

“General Bacellar assumed command of MINUSTAH's military component on September 2005 and he had served his country with honour and distinction for almost forty years,” the spokesman said.

The Secretary-General extended condolences, as did MINUSTAH officials in a statement released in Port-au-Prince. “Lt. General Bacellar, who worked tirelessly to support the Haitian people and their hope for peace, was a distinguished Brazilian soldier,” the mission said in a statement. “His unexpected death leaves us all bereft.”

MINUSTAH paid tribute to the memory of “a professional and honourable soldier who died in the service of the United Nations while doing his utmost to uphold the right of the Haitian people to freely and fairly elect a President and Government of its own choosing.”

It pledged that his untimely death and sacrifice “will not weaken the resolve of MINUSTAH and the international community to ensure the will of the Haitian people prevails and Haiti joins the democratic community of nations.”

Lt. General Bacellar served in Brazil's armed forces for 39 years and had occupied a succession of senior posts before his appointment as Force Commander in MINUSTAH in September 2005.

The Deputy Force Commander has assumed command of all MINUSTAH force elements.

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