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UN envoy appeals to population in Timor-Leste to fully back peacekeeping efforts

UN envoy appeals to population in Timor-Leste to fully back peacekeeping efforts

Atul Khare, Special Representative for Timor-Leste
Responding to increasing violence in the Timor-Leste capital of Dili, the United Nations envoy to the impoverished country today urged the population to fully support the security efforts of the UN and local police, as well as those of the International Security Forces (ISF), as they try to bring stability ahead of this year’s landmark elections.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Atul Khare, who heads the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), said UN Police (UNPOL) and ISF have put more personnel onto the capital’s streets in the past 24 hours. During this period, seven UN Police officers had been injured and several UN vehicles damaged.

“I would sincerely appeal to the people of Timor-Leste, and particularly the residents of Dili, to give your support to the UNPOL officers, PNTL (National Police of Timor-Leste) officers and the International Security Forces (ISF) who are working hard to improve and stabilize the situation,” Mr. Khare said in a statement issued in Dili.

Earlier today, he visited the three main hotspots in the capital, Kampung Baru, Bairro Pite and Fatuhada, and this follows a visit on Tuesday accompanied by Timorese Minister of the Interior Alcino Barris. Yesterday, UNPOL arrested around 80 offenders and made more arrests today.

“UNPOL will continue to take strong actions against all those who indulge in violence or otherwise act contrary to the applicable laws of Timor-Leste...I believe that the people of Timor-Leste deserve better,” said Mr. Khare.

Last week, Mr. Khare was in New York where he briefed the Security Council on Timor-Leste, backing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for more international police during this year’s elections, as well as for an extension of UNMIT’s mandate, set to expire on 25 February, for another year. Timorese Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta, also spoke to the 15-member Council in support of the one-year extension.

The first round of the presidential election is scheduled for 9 April, with the parliamentary election to be held later. These will be the first polls held in the tiny nation since it gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.

The Council created UNMIT in August 2006 to help restore order after deadly fighting, attributed to differences between eastern and western regions, broke out in April and May and caused the deaths of at least 37 people and forced about 155,000 others – or 15 per cent of the population – to flee their homes.