Security Council extends Timor-Leste mission for 1 year, boosts police
The Security Council today extended the United Nations mission in impoverished Timor-Leste for another year until February 2008, while adding up to 140 extra police officers to help counter the increasing violence as the tiny nation gears up for this year’s elections.
The 15-member body voted unanimously on extending the mandate of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), due to expire on Sunday, as well as on an additional Formed Police Unit (FPU), made up of more heavily armed officers. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had called for both measures, which were also backed by Timorese leaders.
The resolution expressed the Council’s concern over the still fragile and volatile security, political, social and humanitarian situation in Timor-Leste and welcomed “initial efforts made in the security sector.”
The FPU, to be comprised of up to 140 police officers, aims to supplement the existing deployment “particularly during the pre- and post-electoral period.”
The Council also expressed its “full support” for the International Security Forces (ISF) in Timor-Leste, and also urged the Government to continue working with UNMIT on a comprehensive review of the security sector.
On Wednesday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Atul Khare, who heads UNMIT, urged the population to fully support the security efforts of the UN and local police, as well as those of the ISF, as they work to stop the recent upsurge in violence, particularly in the capital Dili.
The first round of the Timorese 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.