|Subject: KY: East Timor seeks establishment
of U.N. office to aid elections
East Timor seeks establishment of U.N. office to aid elections
(Kyodo) _ East Timor President Xanana Gusmao asked the U.N. Security Council on Monday to establish a special political office after the current U.N. mission there ends in May, saying that further international assistance was required to prepare for the country's upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2007.
"It is my duty to appeal to the international community to continue their assistance in meeting some of our most critical needs," Gusmao told the council, saying that Prime Minister Mari bim Alkatiri had already submitted a written request to U.N. Security General Kofi Annan and Ambassador Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania, which holds the Security Council presidency for January.
Gusmao outlined Alkatiri's request for an office that would provide electoral assistance, including technical and logistical support; civilian advisers for the "critical areas" of justice and finance; U.N.-led police training; and 15 to 20 military liaison personnel to aid in security along the East Timor-Indonesia border, which the president deemed of "crucial importance."
The mandate of the current office in East Timor, or UNOTIL, led by Sukehiro Hasegawa, special representative of the secretary general for Timor-Leste, will end May 20, 2006.
Hasegawa told the 15-member Security Council Friday that while there had been progress in peace-building, the peace in East Timor remained "fragile."
He added that an electoral needs mission concluded in November 2005 that "free and fair" elections next year required international assistance and a "strong political presence." In addition, Hasegawa said, three technical advisers had already been recruited to assist in drafting electoral laws, planning the administrative process and establishing a database of voters.
In order for East Timor's request to be implemented, the country's proposal requires a draft resolution to be adopted by the 15-member Security Council.
"We owe it to ourselves, as well as to the government and people of Timor-Leste to see to it that this success story remains a proud record in the annals of U.N. history," Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Kenzo Oshima said in a statement to the council after Gusmao's remarks.
Oshima said Japan would consider East Timor's request, particularly noting the recommendations of the U.N. Electoral Assistance Mission. "My delegation will certainly carefully study the request of the Timor-Leste government in considering the modality of U.N. assistance in the post-UNOTIL period," he said.
Wang Guangya, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, told the council that Beijing agreed to East Timor's request, and called on the council to "seriously consider" the proposal and "reach agreement on the relevant arrangements in a timely manner so as to ensure the lasting stability and development of the country."
The U.S. did not address the Timorese president's proposal directly at the meeting, only saying that UNOTIL's expiry did not mean ending assistance to East Timor.
William J. Brencick, the U.S. representative at the council meeting, said the World Bank, the U.N. Development Program, and other international donors should continue to provide assistance to the Timorese.
Annan voiced support for continued U.N. presence in East Timor last Friday, saying, "I strongly believe that while the future of the country rests with the Timorese people and their government, the international community should remain engaged in Timor-Leste beyond 20 May, 2006, when the UNOTIL mandate expires."
The secretary general said he welcomed suggestions from the Security Council "regarding appropriate ways and means" of assisting East Timor with its upcoming elections, which will be the country's first since it assumed independence nearly four years ago.
East Timor split from Indonesia through a U.N.-organized referendum on Aug. 30, 1999, and became fully independent on May 20, 2002, after a U.N.-led transition period.
Associated Press Worldstream
January 23, 2006 Monday
East Timor's president asks U.N. to set up political office when U.N. mission ends in May
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
East Timor's president urged the U.N. Security Council on Monday to keep a small political office in the country after the U.N. wraps up its six-year operation in May.
President Xanana Gusmao hopes the office will help with next year's elections and support critically needed police training, as well as justice and finance reforms.
Gusmao called for deployment of 15 to 20 "military liaison personnel" as part of a new Special Political Office to ensure cooperation between East Timorese and Indonesian security elements "to prevent tensions and conflict along the border."
Gusmao addressed the council three days after delivering a report on Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The report by the independent Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation blames over 100,000 deaths and massive human rights violations including starvation, torture, sexual enslavement and the use of napalm primarily on Indonesian security forces.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and ruled the tiny half-island territory with an iron fist 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 until East Timor became independent in 2002. A U.N. political mission is scheduled to wrap up its operations in May.
The independent commission asked the five permanent members of the Security Council the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France as well as the Indonesian and Portuguese governments and governments that sold weapons to Indonesia and supported Indonesia's policy to pay reparations to the victims. It also suggested that contracts for international judges who served on special panels for serious crimes be renewed and that resources be allocated to investigate and try all crimes committed between 1975 and 1999.
Gusmao rejected both recommendations, saying East Timor and Indonesia "are both nascent democracies struggling to put behind us years of conflict, and our fates are in many ways enjoined."
"I have had to ask myself if it is in our national interest, which must include social harmony, to adopt a process that I am told by some friends will bring justice, and have this process go on for years, and possibly set back our democratic consolidation, that is being undertaken in East Timor and Indonesia respectively. The answer that I came to, after wide consultation with the people, was that it is not," he said.
He said the recommendation to bring to court every crime committed since 1975 could easily lead to "political anarchy and social chaos."
Gusmao said East Timor would follow the "restorative justice model" established by Archbishop Desmond Tutu who headed South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission which granted amnesty for the truth, with the goal of healing deep divisions in society.
He quoted Tutu as saying: "Justice as retribution often ignores the victim and the system is usually impersonal and cold. Restorative justice is hopeful."
The international community pressured Jakarta in 2002 to establish a special tribunal to prosecute Indonesians allegedly responsible for the violence. But the trials have been widely criticized as a sham, with all 17 police and military commanders indicted receiving acquittals.
Indonesia and East Timor set up a joint truth and reconciliation commission in August 2005 and Gusmao said he expects it to conclude its work this year, with the possibility of an extension. He also chided the international community for not supporting this initiative.
"The commitment that we should all undertake is not to allow, under any circumstances, a recurrence of political violence in our beloved homeland," Gusmao said.
He said East Timor's relations with its two closest neighbors Indonesia and Australia "continue on a sound basis."
East Timor and Indonesia have reached agreement on 99 percent of the border and the remaining 1 percent should be resolved "in the next few weeks," Gusmao said.
East Timor and Australia signed an agreement on Jan. 12 that provides for a 50-50 share of oil and gas resources in the Greater Sun Rise area, "one of the richest in the entire Asia-Pacific region, and a 50-year moratorium on our maritime boundary, without prejudice of our sovereign claims," he said.