Subject: AP: U.N. authorizes 1,600 police and 34 military liaison officers for East Timor _ but no troops

U.N. authorizes 1,600 police and 34 military liaison officers for East Timor _ but no troops

08/25/2006

UNITED NATIONS_The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to authorize 1,600 international police and 34 military liaison officers for a follow-on mission in East Timor _ but no troops.

A U.N. political mission had been scheduled to shut down on May 20 of this year. But violence erupted in East Timor in March after then-Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri fired about 600 soldiers, sparking clashes between rival security forces in the capital that later spilled into gang warfare, looting and arson.

The Security Council decided to extend the mandate of the political mission until Aug. 20, and then for another week because of division among council members over whether the foreign troops helping to restore security at the government's request should become part of a new U.N. peacekeeping mission or operate without a U.N. umbrella.

Australia, which is leading a multinational task force that includes troops from New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia, told the council it was prepared to continue the current arrangement and finance it, an offer supported by the United States, Britain and Japan. Other council members backed East Timor's call for a U.N. military contingent.

Ghana's U.N. Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng, the current council president, said including a military contingent in the new U.N. Integrated Mission in East Timor, which will be known as UNMIT, was dropped because of the differences.

"We think that stability is a reflection of underlying forces, social and economic, and I think those issues should be addressed, but ideally it would have been better to have a military component, but this was not acceptable to all the members of the council," he said.

The resolution notes that "while the manifestations of the current crisis ... are political and institutional, poverty and its associated deprivations, including high urban unemployment, especially for youth, also contributed to the crisis."

The council expressed support "for the deployment of international security forces" by Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia "and their activities aiming to restore and maintain security" in East Timor. It called on all parties in East Timor to cooperate fully with the deployment and operations of the U.N. mission and international security forces.

The council authorized the new mission to deploy "an appropriate civilian component, including up to 1,608 police personnel, and an initial component of up to 34 military liaison and staff officers."

Effah-Apenteng said the resolution shows "the U.N. is still engaged there ... the U.N. is not abandoning them, and there are a whole lot of things that should be done."

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and ruled the tiny half-island territory until 1999, when a U.N.-organized plebiscite resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence. Withdrawing Indonesian troops and their militia auxiliaries destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and killed at least 1,500 people.

The United Nations sent a U.N. peacekeeping force and administered the territory for 2 1/2 years, then handed it to the Timorese on May 20, 2002.

The resolution, sponsored by Japan, establishes the new mission for six months "to support the government and relevant institutions, with a view to consolidating stability, enhancing a culture of democratic governance, and facilitating political dialogue among Timorese stakeholders, in their efforts to bring about a process of national reconciliation and to foster social cohesion."

The U.N. mission will also support the government "in all aspects" of its first presidential and parliamentary elections since independence, scheduled for 2007. The council said the elections "will be a significant step forward in the process of strengthening the fragile democracy in East Timor."


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