UNITED NATIONS - Just 2 1/2 months after clamping devastating economic sanctions on Haiti's military regime, the Security Council prepared to suspend them today because a democratic government is nearly in place.
The oil embargo and an earlier trade embargo in the Americas crippled the economy in Haiti and helped lead to thousands of Haitian deaths, according to researchers and Haitian leaders.
U.N. sanctions were imposed June 16 to compel military leaders to restore elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in a coup two years ago.
Today, the 15-member Security Council was expected unanimously to suspend an oil and arms embargo and the freezing of assets abroad linked with Haiti's military rulers.
The Organization of American States also was expected to suspend its hemispherewide trade sanctions, which blocked all but food, medicine and cooking oil. Virtually all nations complied with the ban.
The permanent lifting of sanctions will take place only after Aristide is restored to power in Haiti, which has been promised by Oct. 30. Sanctions could be reimposed if democracy is not restored.
Prime Minister-designate Robert Malval, the choice of the exiled Aristide, was ratified by Haiti's parliament Wednesday night. Aristide was arranging for Malval to be sworn in Monday at the Haitian Embassy in Washington.
U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali recommended that the sanctions be suspended. In a report to the council, he also recommended establishment of a 1,000-person mission to Haiti for six months. The council is expected to approve it next week.
The mission would include 567 U.N. police monitors to help strengthen human rights and train police, and a 500-man military construction unit to repair roads and other projects. About 60 military trainers would help build a professional army.
At present there is no clear separation between police and military in Haiti. The U.N. mission, which would cost about $37 million, would help develop distinct, professional forces.
The move to suspend sanctions was applauded in Haiti, which has been running on strategic reserves of diesel fuel for more than a week.
Antoine Joseph, president of Haiti's lower house of Parliament, called the sanctions on such a poor nation "a crime against humanity." He has asked foreign nations to forgive Haiti's $800 million foreign debt as reparations.
Haitian lawmakers and doctors have said that about 10,000 Haitians died as a direct or indirect result of sanctions.