Sean Penn's charity to help demolish Haiti's palace

Sean Penn carries the belongings of a person displaced by the earthquake as people are relocated from the Petion ville Golf Club to a new camp, Corail-Cesselesse, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Penn is being honored by a group of Nobel laureates for his relief work in Haiti following the country's devastating January 2010 earthquake. Penn is to receive the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates at an event in Chicago in April 2012 and is expected to draw such luminaries as Poland's Lech Walesa and the Dalai Lama. AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

Sean Penn carries the belongings of a person displaced by the earthquake as people are relocated in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

(CBS/AP) The nonprofit aid group founded by Sean Penn in the aftermath of Haiti's deadly 2010 earthquake will oversee demolition of the wrecked National Palace, the Haitian government said Tuesday.

Pictures: Sean Penn

Government spokesman Lucien Jura told The Associated Press that Penn's J/P HRO group will begin the demolition in the next 10 days. The group is not charging for the work, which is expected to take about two months, the government said in an email.

"Amb. Penn mentioned that his organization (J/P HRO) could provide the engineers and equipment to do the demolition at no cost to the government,"  government spokesman Lucien Jura wrote in an email, referring to the position that Penn holds as ambassador-at-large for Haiti.

The earthquake toppled hundreds of buildings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and in other cities to the south. The National Palace was among them, its white dome and the rest of the structure slowly falling into itself.

The crumbled National Palace has come to symbolize the level of devastation caused by the quake as well as the government inertia that followed.

But Penn's group hopes the demolition will mark a turning point for Haiti as it works with the government and a department in charge of preserving historical monuments. The effort will include both construction machines along with workers using their hands, said Ron Baldwin, the group's executive director.

"It's an important project, an important step for the government, for Haiti, for the people of Haiti to move on," Baldwin said by telephone.

It's still not clear what will follow the demolition. Government spokesman Jura said officials had not decided on how to replace the government building, which has had to be rebuilt before.

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