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In Timor-Leste, UN beefs up security ahead of President’s return

In Timor-Leste, UN beefs up security ahead of President’s return

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President Jose Ramos-Horta (file photo)
Security has been stepped up in Timor-Leste ahead of the return of President Jose Ramos-Horta on Thursday, some two months after he was wounded in an assassination attempt, a senior United Nations police official said today.

Ahead of the President’s return, the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) today unveiled strengthened security arrangements for the President on his arrival and afterwards, including checkpoints near his house and close protection by UN and Timorese police.

Mr. Ramos-Horta has been undergoing medical treatment in Darwin, Australia, after being shot at his home in the Timorese capital, Dili, by rebel soldiers on 11 February. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão came under fire in a separate attack on his motorcade but was not injured.

The attacks are among several security-related challenges the young nation – which the UN helped shepherd to freedom in 2002 – has experienced during its short period of independence.

Speaking to reporters in Dili today, UNMIT’s Deputy Police Commissioner Juan-Carlos Arevalo said that one of the most important lessons from the attacks is that UN Police (UNPOL) should be reinstated into the security arrangements of the President.

Therefore, the Mission is providing members of the Portuguese Formed Police Unit (FPU) to be directly in charge of the close protection. “This team is very well equipped, very well trained and they have plenty of experience,” said Mr. Arevalo.

“Another important lesson is that we need to strengthen our links and our coordination among all the institutions related to security,” he added. “We need to increase our communication channels, we need to coordinate even more… in procuring security and stability for East Timor.”