UN seeks Brazilian successor to late force commander in Haiti peacekeeping chief

Speaking to reporters in New York, Jean-Marie Guéhenno paid tribute to 58-year-old Lieutenant-General Urano Teixeira Da Matta Bacellar of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for a long and successful career. “The tragic death of General Bacellar has affected all of us,” said Mr. Guéhenno. “He was a committed soldier who served his country for 39 years and had a distinguished service with MINUSTAH.” Brazil has made a very strong commitment to Haiti, and another Brazilian Force Commander would be welcomed, he added.With the investigation into the death still going on, he declined to comment further on the circumstances, but stressed that MINUSTAH’s work continues apace. “The mission is very much under control. Actually, it is working to prepare for the elections.”Mr. Guéhenno also welcomed an announcement from the Caribbean country during an otherwise tragic weekend that the twice-postponed first round of elections would take place on 7 February. The Security Council had said last week that the poll should be held by that date at the latest.Mr. Guéhenno attributed recent trouble in Haiti to the fact that the status of the elections had changed from having been a dream 12 months ago to becoming a reality. “And it is a reality that everybody will have to face up to because the elections are going to be free (and) honest,” he said. MINUSTAH, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Haitians would exert all possible efforts to ensure that the elections would give everyone a fair chance to compete and that afterwards the losers would not be “sidelined or crushed” in the too frequently manifested winner-take-all proposition in that country, but would be reconciled, Mr. Guéhenno said. He said Haiti had made tremendous progress in a number of areas. “When I visited Haiti in June in Bel Air I had to be in an armoured personnel carrier, with a helmet and a flak jacket and Bel Air was basically an off-limits place. Now the situation in Bel Air is much better, as it is in most parts of Haiti.” He acknowledged that the situation in Cité Soleil, another poor suburb of the capital, remains difficult. There, gangs are mixed with civilians, which is an operational challenge for any force in the world, Mr. Guéhenno added, and the peacekeepers were looking for ways to “strengthen their posture.” Deputy Force Commander General Eduardo Aldunate Herman of Chile has assumed command of the MINUSTAH force. read more

Orange Bowl gets an AlabamaOklahoma CFP matchup

MIAMI — Alabama was the easy pick. Oklahoma was the difficult choice.They’re on equal footing now.Top-seeded Alabama (13-0) will continue its quest for a second consecutive national championship in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, when the Crimson Tide will take on the fourth-seeded Sooners (12-1) — who got to the College Football Playoff semifinals on the strength of their Big 12 championship win over Texas.Ohio State, Georgia and even UCF all felt like they deserved a spot, but the selection committee felt Oklahoma’s resume was the best off that long list of contenders for the fourth and final entry into the playoff.“The one-loss conference champion carried the day,” CFP selection chairman Rob Mullens said on the televised announcement of the pairings.Alabama has won 15 consecutive games, starting with its two wins in last season’s playoff and most recently a rally past Georgia for the Southeastern Conference title on Saturday. Oklahoma’s only defeat this season was to Texas, a 48-45 game on a neutral field in Dallas on Oct. 6 — and the Sooners won the rematch in Saturday’s Big 12 title game, 39-27.The Tide knew they were going to the playoffs.The Sooners had to wait and sweat out the official word.“Sooner Nation, we just got some great news,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in a video posted to Twitter shortly after the announcement was made.It’s a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams in the nation this season. Oklahoma, led by Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Kyler Murray, averages 49.5 points per game. Alabama averages 47.9 points per game.And while the Sooners know who their quarterback is, the Crimson Tide have some questions at that position.Jalen Hurts led Alabama’s rally over Georgia on Saturday, taking over when Crimson Tide starter Tua Tagovailoa left with what appeared to be a right ankle injury. Hurts threw for a touchdown and ran in for the winning TD with about a minute left, as Alabama knocked off Georgia 35-28 — a win that probably knocked the Bulldogs out of the playoff.Alabama-Oklahoma got slotted for the Orange Bowl instead of the Cotton Bowl in large part because of how close the Sooners’ home is to Dallas. It would have largely been a home game for Oklahoma had this matchup been in the Cotton Bowl.Alabama is going to the Orange Bowl for the ninth time. This will be Oklahoma’s 20th trip to the Orange Bowl, extending the Sooners’ record for most appearances in the game.___More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/APTop25Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press read more