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Timor-Leste: UN official stresses need for credible State institutions

Timor-Leste: UN official stresses need for credible State institutions

Building strong State institutions, particularly a credible security sector, will be vital if Timor-Leste is to resolve many of the issues that continue to plague the young nation, a visiting senior United Nations official said today.

“Without a credible security sector that has the trust of the people, that is not seen… to be aligned with one group or another, the State of Timor-Leste will remain weak,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Marie Guéhenno said in an interview with UN Radio.

Mr. Guéhenno is currently in Timor-Leste, which the UN helped shepherd to independence in 2002, ahead of an official visit by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tomorrow.

The peacekeeping chief said that the crisis which engulfed the tiny nation last year showed the weaknesses of the State, particularly its police force. While police training has been a key component of the UN’s involvement in Timor-Leste, building a credible and viable security sector will require “much more work” that goes beyond the training of an individual police officer, he said.

“I think we have to be there for several more years,” Mr. Guéhenno stated, adding that the country had “major internal problems that need to be resolved.”

While in Timor-Leste, Mr. Guéhenno has met with representatives of political parties, civil society and women’s groups, and visited a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

His visit follows a recent mission by Security Council members who also had an opportunity to see first-hand the challenges facing the country, having met with a wide range of people from the Government, civil society and the UN family, including the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

In its report on the 24 to 30 November visit, which the 15-member body discussed in a formal meeting today, Council members noted that rebuilding the confidence of the population in State and security institutions, addressing the fate of about 100,000 IDPs and resolving land and property disputes “are all very real challenges facing the nation in 2007 and beyond.”