PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The United Nations began its first full day of formal peacekeeping here yesterday, with nearly 6,900 soldiers and police officers from more than 30 countries donning blue berets and moving in to replace the U.S.-led military force that has been responsible for Haiti's security since last fall.
The mood in the capital was calm as the troops took up their mandate, which is to maintain order as this poor and volatile nation struggles to build a democracy and a functioning economy.
Though U.N. troops have been pouring into Haiti for more than a month, they took up their duties only after a formal transfer of authority Friday attended by President Clinton, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The peacekeepers are expected to remain in Haiti for the next 10 months, with their mission culminating in the inauguration of President Aristide's successor in February 1996. Throughout this period, they will be exercising a broader set of responsibilities than the U.S. force they replaced.
"What we will be doing is looking at what Haiti is doing to make all the various components, such as justice, police and elections, come together," said Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister who directs the U.N. mission here.
Before its departure, the U.N. mission must also oversee two sets of campaigns and elections, parliamentary and presidential.