Subject: LUSA: Timorese Troops Join UN Peacekeepers for Election Security

10 Aug 01 14:06 East Timor: Timorese Troops Join UN Peacekeepers for Election Security

In one of their first public deployments, a small contingent of armed East Timorese soldiers joined UN peacekeepers Friday to aid security operations in the countdown to the territory's first elections, the Aug. 30 vote for a constituent assembly.

The 66 soldiers, equally divided into three 22-member units, would be deployed "through election day and for at least one week" following the balloting, defense force commander, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, told Lusa in Dili.

"The people asked for our involvement and we accepted", he said, adding that the chief objective was "greater visibil[i]ty" of the Timorese troops to generate "more confidence" during the electoral period.

The Timorese units will serve with UN peacekeepers in the territory's three western, central and eastern military regions.

UN officials have said they counted on the newly trained Timorese troops primarily for liaison with local populations and to investigate eventual rumors of political violence.

In another election countdown development, UN-administration personnel launched a campaign Thursday to distribute 4,000 small, wind-up radios provided by Australia's AusAID organization.

The radios, which do not need scarce and expensive batteries, are aimed to help communities across East Timor inform themselves and follow the election campaign.

SAS -Lusa-

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