Chinese peacekeepers in Haiti are being deployed to safeguard a
smooth vote count after a chaotic but mostly peaceful presidential
The vote, which ended on Tuesday night local time, is the first
election in the unstable Caribbean nation of 8.3 million since its
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted two years
UN troops with helicopters, trucks and mules have hauled ballots
from remote voting stations across the country to the voting center
in the capital Port-au-Prince that is being guarded by the Chinese
Zhang Jin, information officer with the Chinese team in Haiti,
described the task as the "most important and difficult one Chinese
peacekeepers have ever shouldered."
"We're honored to be given the task of safeguarding the voting
center, but we also realize the possible risk," he told China
Daily yesterday in an online interview.
The center is near the campsite of the Chinese team, but also
adjacent to the gang-controlled Cite Soleil slum in
Mass confusion and tension at some voting stations due to late
poll openings and irregularities, which led to at least four deaths
on election day, have heightened concerns.
Zhang said the Chinese team is making unswerving efforts to
accomplish the task.
Crouching behind machine guns and patrolling alongside armored
vehicles, 125 Chinese officers, including eight women, are on
garrison duty at nine sentry posts near the voting center.
Each of them has to work for at least 10 hours a day to give the
center comprehensive 24-hour protection.
Zhang said more than 50,000 meters of wire and 1,000 bags of
stones and sand were used to install barbed wire entanglements and
erect fortifications at sections where potential problems were
As part of the 9,000-strong UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti, the
current Chinese team arrived in the country last December for an
eight-month tour of duty. All members are from east China's
To get a better understanding of the country, the team has
closely studied UN information reports on Haiti and subscribed to
"We need all the information to draft emergency plans for
anything unexpected," Zhang told China Daily.
(China Daily February 11, 2006)