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UN Police deployed in all 12 districts of Timor-Leste as poll preparations move ahead

UN Police deployed in all 12 districts of Timor-Leste as poll preparations move ahead

United Nations police officers have now deployed in all 12 of Timor-Leste’s districts to help end the low-level gang violence in the country and provide security for the electoral experts who are helping prepare for next year’s polls, the UN envoy said today, as he stressed the world body’s commitment to the elections.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, Atul Khare, speaking in the last press conference of the year, said the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) will work closely with the people and authorities to ensure free and credible polls.

“UNMIT has also deployed electoral experts in all the districts,” he said, noting that UN eight Police were also sent.

“UNMIT will assist the authorities of Timor-Leste and the people of Timor-Leste to provide the necessary conditions for free, fair and credible elections,” Mr. Khare added, while acknowledging that while the security situation has much improved, particularly since the deadly violence earlier this year, much still remains to be done.

“I agree that we have to undertake many more actions to ensure that not only are there no weapons in civilian hands but that people feel, people believe, that no such weapons remain in civilian hands.”

The Security Council created UNMIT in August to help restore order after fighting, attributed to differences between eastern and western regions, broke out in April and May and led to the deaths of at least 37 people and forced about 155,000 people – or 15 per cent of the population – to flee their homes.

As part of UNMIT, there are currently over 900 international police officers from 25 different countries implementing screening and mentoring programmes for the National Police force of Timor-Leste under the Police Supplemental Agreement, a deal signed at the start of this month under which the UN has full responsibility for policing.

Also speaking at today’s press conference was the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Security Sector Reform Rule of Law in Timor-Leste, Eric Tan, who stressed the importance of UNPOL being in all the 12 districts, while noting that security in the capital, Dili, continues to improve.

“The presence of UNPOL in the districts outside Dili… allows us to have a very good sense of the security situation there,” he said, calling this “especially crucial” in the light of the coming elections.

“Security in Dili continues to improve,” Mr. Tan said, adding that adjustments to the UN Police concept of security operations have proven effective.