UN commander in Haiti found dead

The Brazilian commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti has been found dead of an apparent suicide in his hotel room.

The Brazilian commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti was found dead on the balcony of his hotel room on Saturday, UN officials said.

Brazil's state news agency said Lt. Gen. Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar was the victim of "a firearms accident." The Reuters news agency quoted UN officials as saying the general had apparently shot himself in the head.

Bacellar had been responsible for the 9,000-strong peacekeeping force in the impoverished Caribbean nation since the end of August.

Officials in the country have been trying to restore democracy, two years after a rebellion overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

A presidential election was originally scheduled for November, but has been put off repeatedly and now is expected to take place in February.

Bacellar's death is expected to seriously demoralize many of the 1,200 Brazilians who make up the second largest UN contingent in Haiti.

It's also the latest in a series of setbacks for the UN mission known by its acronym MINUSTAH.

On Dec. 20, gunmen shot and killed retired RCMP officer Marc Bourque, 57, as he and a colleague were driving near the Port-au -Prince slum of Cité Soleil.

A few days later, 31-year-old Jordanian soldier Yousef Algader was killed, also while patrolling the slum.

Haitians are becoming increasingly impatient with the lack of security ahead of the vote. The business community of Port-au-Prince has declared there will be a national strike on Monday; it's asking merchants to close their shops as a form of protest against the inability of the UN to bring peace to the streets.