Haiti: U.S. Embassy allows return of diplomatic staff, says situation improved

The U.S. Embassy said Tuesday that security in Haiti has improved enough for diplomatic employees evacuated earlier this year to return in time for elections.

The U.S. State Department in May ordered the evacuation of an unspecified number of employees and their families for security reasons. Others were evacuated in June because of the persistently volatile situation in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

The decision to recall the employees "reflects the improvement of the security situation in Haiti ahead of the elections, thanks to the efforts of U.N. peacekeepers and police along with the National Police to reduce violence and crime," the embassy said in a statement.

Some politicians and human rights groups called on Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council to delay the elections because of lack of preparation and security.

In the past 18 months, more than 1,200 Haitians have been killed because of gang violence and political chaos, the Roman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission reported.

More than 7,500 U.N. peacekeepers and police have been in Haiti since June 2004 to keep order. They arrived four months after the Feb. 29 overthrow of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

Haiti's first elections since Aristide's ouster have been set for Dec. 27, after three postponements. On Monday, however, the Provisional Electoral Council declined to confirm the date officially. It said it needed more time to fix a timetable, reported AP. P.T.

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