In new report, Annan outlines plans for UN mission in East Timor

In new report, Annan outlines plans for UN mission in East Timor

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending the current United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) until the territory's independence on 20 May to ensure the stability and viability of the nascent country.

In a just-released report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General says that throughout the UN's engagement in East Timor, the international community's efforts to promote peace "have been predicated upon the interlinked nature of the requirements for stability."

At a time when new demands are being made on the international community, "it is essential that its commitment be met in full, and that the tasks which have been so well advanced be brought to fruition," Mr. Annan says. "Close partnership between East Timor and the international community will remain essential for the continued stability and development of the country."

Looking ahead to UNTAET's successor mission, the Secretary-General says it would ensure that all operational responsibilities are fully handed over to the East Timorese authorities "as soon as is feasible" over a two-year period starting from independence.

As part of that devolution process, the role of the UN's military component will be to provide continued support for the external security and territorial integrity of East Timor, while handing over its responsibilities to the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) and relevant public administration departments.

The Secretary-General also stresses the importance of the development of the ETDF and the East Timor Police Service, which will enable the UN to disengage its military and civilian police components without creating instability.

"[This] will not occur unless Member States support an adequate and sustainable capital programme to equip both organizations," Mr. Annan notes, adding that he will report later to the Council with further details of a successor mission to UNTAET.

Meanwhile, East Timor's Constituent Assembly today set 9 March as the date for completion and final approval of the nation's first constitution.

According to UNTAET, an Assembly working commission produced a revised constitutional debate schedule over the weekend after the full Assembly voted Friday to extend its deliberations. Seventy Assembly members voted Monday in favour of the new schedule, one opposed and three abstained.

All 151 articles of the draft constitution are expected to be approved by the end of January, UNTAET said. The Portuguese-language document must then be translated into Tetum and distributed to various civil groups for review. The final text is scheduled to be ready by 5 March, and a formal promulgation vote and ceremony is to be held on 9 March.