Haiti president lays out path to restore army

PORT-AU-PRINCE, (Reuters) – Haitian President Michel  Martelly today launched a plan to restore the nation’s  armed forces, despite fears their revival could be divisive in  a country bloodied by past military coups and rights abuses.
In a ceremony marking a 19th-century independence battle,  Martelly apologized to past victims of the Haitian army that  was abolished in 1995 by former President Jean-Bertrand  Aristide, himself once ousted in a 1991 military coup.
Martelly, a former pop star, said Haitians would prefer to  have their country protected by its own army rather than by  foreign troops who have acted as peacekeepers in the  impoverished Caribbean nation since 1994.
“This has been going on for 17 years and that is 17 years  too much … . This should stop and it will stop,” he said,  speaking in front of the presidential palace at an event  attended by ministers, dignitaries and diplomats.
Martelly, elected in March on a nationalist platform  pledging Haiti’s renewal after a devastating earthquake last  year, announced the setting up of a civil commission to prepare  a road map for restoration of the military.
After consultation with various national sectors, this plan  would be presented on Jan. 1, independence day in what is the  Western Hemisphere’s poorest state.
Martelly’s words drew applause from the crowd and shouts of  “Long live the army!”

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