On an official visit to the Timor-Leste this week, members of the Security Council praised the “historic milestones” achieved by the southeast Asian nation since it restored independence in 2002, and reiterated the support of the United Nations as the country faces new challenges.
“Low levels of violence and high levels of participation from society have been monumental achievements,” Ambassador Baso Sangqu, the Permanent Representative of South Africa and head of the Security Council delegation to Timor-Leste, told reporters in the country’s capital, Dili, on Tuesday. “But challenges still remain.”
In May, Timor-Leste celebrated its 10th anniversary since its restoration of independence. The independence celebrations coincided with the inauguration of a new president, Taur Matan Ruak, who was voted into office in April. The country also held parliamentary elections in July, which were largely peaceful and held in an orderly manner, according to observers.
In his comments, Ambassador Sangqu stressed Timor-Leste would continue to have the support of the world body once the peacekeeping operation known as the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which was tasked with supporting the Government to consolidate stability and enhancing a culture of democratic governance, departs.
UNMIT was first established by the Security Council in August 2006 in the wake of a major political, humanitarian and security crisis which erupted in the country in April of that year.
“Challenges are more focused now on issues of social and economic development, and strengthening the institutional capacity of the State,” Ambassador Sangqu said. “The relationship with the UN will now focus on those issues.”
The Council delegation leader also noted that the close relationship and cooperation between UNMIT and the Government had contributed to many successes, particularly in the security sector.
“The relationship between the Government and the Mission itself has contributed a great deal in the successes that have been registered over the years,” he said. “When we visited a police station, we could testify to the strong relationship that has been developed and which has led to the professionalization of the national police.”
The peaceful elections and strengthening of the police force, Ambassador Sangqu added, will ensure security and peace endure in the country in years to come.