The government is to deploy fresh troops
in Haiti under UN flag. Army headquarters said that a battalion
of Gemunu Watch troops would be despatched shortly to replace
the Sinha Regiment troops deployed in the lawless Caribbean
A spokesman said that the first contingent comprising 376
officers and men would be leaving tomorrow (24). The second
contingent comprises 375 officers and men. It would leave on
December 9. The Gemunu contingent would be commanded by Colonel
J.C.T. Pakshaweera. Lt. Colonel K.P.A.Jayasekara would be his
The forthcoming deployment is the first since the November 17
presidential elections brought Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse
to power. The government is to continue with the agreement with
the UN. Authoritative sources speculated on the possibility of
the government committing additional troops. Rajapakse is
expected to retain the Defence portfolio.
The JVP continues to criticise the army’s UN role. The
Marxist party called for the immediate withdrawal of troops
after attacks claimed the lives of two peace keepers and wounded
Sri Lankan forces joined a Brazilian-led UN peace keeping
mission during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime
Minister. The Sri Lanka Light Infantry served the UN mission
first and was replaced by the Sinha Regiment. The Gemunu troops
would be taking over from Sinha troops.
Sri Lanka deployed an additional contingent of about 200
army-navy-air force personnel several months ago.
Recently UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the US to
consider deploying troops to support a U.N. peacekeeping mission
beset by mounting armed challenges to its authority.
Sri Lankan troops are among 6,700 Brazilian, Chilean,
Argentine and other peacekeeping forces serving in Haiti. Twelve
countries contribute troops to the mission.
The Bush administration sent U.S. troops into Haiti in March
2004 to halt an upsurge of violence that culminated in former
president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s flight from Haiti. A
Brazilian-led U.N. peacekeeping force replaced the United States
as the country’s chief guarantor of security.
Sri Lankan troops returning from Haiti said that the problem
was that the U.N. peacekeeping forces were frequently obliged to
play a policing role against the violent armed gangs who operate
among the thousands of innocent people crowded into the slums
and narrow alleyways of Port-au-Prince and other Haitian cities.
The thin line between peacekeeping and indiscriminate
repression can become dangerously blurred in the Port-au-Prince
neighbourhoods of Bel-Air, Cit`E9 Soleil and Carrefour or the
northern city of Gonaives, the most turbulent zones in the
country, they said.
In Haiti, there are no precisely defined forces with whom it
would be possible to negotiate, unlike other countries beset by
internal conflicts, veterans of other U.N. peacekeeping missions