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Timor-Leste will need UN assistance for some time, says Security Council team

Timor-Leste will need UN assistance for some time, says Security Council team

Despite the tremendous gains achieved by Timor-Leste since achieving independence in 2002, it will continue to need United Nations assistance for some time to address its political, security and economic challenges, according to a Security Council team that visited the country recently.

During its 24 to 30 November visit, members of the Security Council mission gained first-hand knowledge of the situation in the tiny nation that the UN helped shepherd to independence, meeting with a wide range of people from Government, civil society and the UN family.

While the country has recovered well from the violent crisis that engulfed it last year, the mission feels that many of its causes have yet to be tackled. “The crisis occurred because of divisions in the leadership, weak institutions – especially the security forces – and poor Government structures,” the mission states in its report.

Rebuilding the confidence of the population in State and security institutions, addressing the fate of about 100,000 internally displaced persons and resolving land and property disputes “are all very real challenges facing the nation in 2007 and beyond,” the report adds.

Foremost among the mission’s concerns is that, despite the successful holding of presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year, divergences among the political leaders continues to exist, with implications for national unity and political stability.

“Unless the differences among the Timorese leaders are resolved, political uncertainty will persist, and with it the prospect of renewed violence and bloodshed,” states the report.

The mission advocates that the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) be renewed when its mandate expires next February “as it has an important role to play in continuing to assist the Timorese people and leaders in addressing the serious challenges that the young country still faces.”

In particular, the mission believes the continuation of the UN police presence is “vital,” given the lack of confidence of the Timorese in their security institutions, especially the police.

The Council mission was led by South African Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo and also included delegates from China, Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Slovakia and United States.