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Uruguay to start pulling peacekeepers from Haiti

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Uruguay said Friday it will withdraw part of its peacekeepers from Haiti in the coming days, following through on an earlier decision it linked to a lack of democratic progress.

"Uruguay is sticking with its decision to leave for now and will withdraw and not replace a part of its forces in the coming days," President Jose Mujica said in his weekly radio address.

Mujica's comments came just weeks after he announced that he planned to pull his country's peacekeepers due to Haiti's delays in convening Senate elections and a "political impasse in Haitian society."

He said Friday that he and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff recently agreed that the Brasilia-led force could not become a permanent "Praetorian Guard" to protect a regime that was not moving forward with elections or forming a police force capable of guaranteeing security.

"Ultimately, if in 10 years we've not been able to solve these issues, obviously it seems another road needs to be taken," he said.

Mujica said the matter would be discussed with representatives of all countries contributing troops to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its acronymn MINUSTAH.

"We hope that we can quickly resolve this issue," he said.

Uruguay is the largest contributor to the force in relation to its population and currently has some 840 army and 100 navy personnel stationed there.

The UN Security Council in October said it was reducing the size of the force, which has been on the ground since 2004, to 5,021 soldiers, from 6,233. Brazil began reducing the size of its contingent in March.

In Uruguay's case, that reduction amounted to 33 percent and that cutback is already being implemented, Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said recently.

In a next phase in early 2013, a decrease of nearly 200 troops is planned.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131115/uruguay-start-pulling-peacekeepers-haiti