The UN will name Bill Clinton its special envoy to Haiti, his spokesman said, in a move that could capitalise on the former US president’s years of involvement with the impoverished nation to burnish the international body’s image there.
An official announcement is expected from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon today, Mr Clinton’s spokesman Matt McKenna said.
UN peacekeepers have provided the only real security in Haiti since 2004, and are helping training the country’s under-equipped national police force to retake control eventually.
But protesters and some Haitian politicians denounce the international troops as an occupation force and have called for them to leave.
Mr Clinton himself is popular among many of Haiti’s poor, however, for using the threat of military force to oust a dictatorship in 1994.
US Army troops and Marines then quickly arrived to pave the way for the return of elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had been deposed in a coup.
Mr Aristide was later ousted again in a 2004 rebellion and flown into exile aboard a US plane. Some Haitians still hope for his return.
This March, Mr Clinton toured the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince with the UN chief to encourage investment after a year that saw a food crisis, destabilising riots and four devastating tropical storms.
The following month, he attended a donors’ conference in Washington that resulted in pledges of $324m (€238.3m) for the struggling country. Haiti is the hemisphere’s poorest nation and been mired for decades in political and social turmoil.
Because of his marriage to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, State Department lawyers must approve and review some of Mr Clinton’s international activities under an agreement between the US Senate and the Clinton Foundation, which works in Haiti on a number of issues including health care, Aids, the environment and economic development.
Officials said the State Department is aware of the appointment but could not immediately say if its lawyers have signed off on it.