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East Timor: as its mission nears end, UN assures nation of continued commitment

East Timor: as its mission nears end, UN assures nation of continued commitment

In the waning days of its mandate, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) will focus on security, public administration and justice, the UN’s top official in the territory told the constitutional assembly today.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative in East Timor and the head of UNTAET, assured the Constituent Assembly that the UN would not abandon the territory in its efforts to form a new government, rebuild its infrastructure, train civil servants and try those suspected of committing crimes against humanity.

The UNTAET chief also urged Assembly members to set aside their political differences and concentrate on the greater interests of the new nation as they work on East Timor’s first constitution, which is set to be adopted on 9 March.

Mr. Vieira de Mello addressed the Assembly ahead of a UN Security Council meeting next week, where he will present a report on the need to extend UNTAET’s mandate until East Timor’s 20 May independence date, and on plans for a successor mission.

In his remarks today, Mr. Vieira de Mello explained that after independence, the new UN mission was expected to have three parts: military, civilian and civilian police. The military component is expected to focus on defining and stabilizing East Timor’s borders as development of the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) continued, reaching an expected target of 5,000 soldiers by mid-2003.