U.N. chief names Bill Clinton special Haiti envoy

GENEVA (Reuters) - The head of the United Nations said Tuesday he had named former U.S. president Bill Clinton as his special envoy to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, which suffered four hurricanes and riots last year.

Clinton, who has galvanized efforts to help the impoverished Caribbean nation recover, accompanied Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Ban on a trip to Haiti in March.

"There will be no change in the United Nations' commitment to help Haiti through the United Nations stabilisation forces in Haiti," Ban told a news conference. He said 9,000 U.N. troops were playing a crucial role in restoring stability.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement that Clinton would bring "unparalleled expertise and enthusiasm" to the role.

The United States is "firmly committed to a future of peace and prosperity for the people of Haiti," she said.

Rice said "much of Haiti's progress still remains fragile, especially after the terrible challenges of the past year from severe hurricanes to the global food crisis."

Diplomats have said Clinton's widely anticipated appointment could attract investment to Haiti and help stabilise the country where riots sparked by rocketing food prices caused the government's ouster last year.

The United Nations says low labour costs, proximity to the United States and Canada, and the duty-free access it will enjoy in the U.S. market for the next nine years could underpin Haiti's future economic growth.

(Reporting by Laura MacInnis; additional reporting by Megan Davies at the United Nations; editing by Ralph Boulton and Mohammad Zargham)

Article Published: 19/05/2009