Subject: Australia Rejects UN Timor Control [+Police chief may be Australian]

also: Australian may be made E Timor police chief

Sydney Morning Herald Thursday, June 15, 2006

Australia rejects UN Timor control

Mark Coultan Herald Correspondent in New York and agencies

AUSTRALIA has signalled its opposition to a United Nations force taking over the four-nation peacekeeping mission but has called for an international police officer to take over the running of policing in the troubled country.

Australia's ambassador to the UN, Robert Hill, told the Security Council it would be better for the UN to focus on other issues, such as East Timor's longer-term needs, while the multinational force, led by Australia, took care of security.

East Timor's Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, in a speech read on his behalf to the Security Council, said a UN force was essential to "reduce political and diplomatic tensions".

He said there should be more countries involved, such as Fiji, Singapore and Thailand.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, said there was a lesson to be learnt in the recent violence about withdrawing too early from fragile democracies.

Washington had pressured the Security Council to scale back its peacekeeping operations in East Timor.

"For the medium term, we will have to cohabit the theatre with the international forces from the four countries and us, but eventually work out an arrangement where a transformed UN force takes over," Mr Annan said.

He said Australia had indicated it would " probably be there for about six months to a year", but with the East Timorese indicating it would be required for at least that long, Australia saw a need for a "time limit for [its] stay".

Mr Annan said that, in military terms, he did not expect to see UN forces on the ground for another six months.

Mr Hill said that instead of leading a security force, the UN should concentrate on attempting a reconciliation between warring factions, investigating the deaths that had occurred and trying to restore the confidence of the people, particularly those in refugee camps.

In the longer term, the security forces had to be reformed, with careful consideration given to how a UN-led police force would interact with the local force.

He said there was a case for appointing a foreign national as police chief and having the UN run the prison system.

In his first speech to parliament since East Timor was hit by street violence, East Timor's President, Xanana Gusmao, appeared to distance himself from a campaign to oust his political rival, the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, vowing to uphold the constitution until his term expired next year.

Mr Gusmao declared that as President he was "a guardian of the constitution".

"I will continue to fulfil the sacred duty of safeguarding the democratic state, based on the rule of law, until the end of my mandate in May 2007, and I will do so unwaveringly, and the people can be sure of that," he said.

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The Australian Thursday, June 15, 2006

Australian may be made E Timor police chief

David Nason, New York

FORMER top cop Mick Palmer could take over East Timor's faction-ravaged police force as part of UN plans to restore the troubled nation's justice system.

The name of the former Northern Territory and Australian Federal Police commissioner was being circulated after Australia's UN ambassador, Robert Hill, told a special session of the Security Council there was a case for putting a foreigner in charge of East Timor's police.

Mr Hill's comments came as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it would take at least six months before a UN peacekeeping force would be ready to take over from the Australian-led multinational force that intervened in East Timor.

Mr Annan said Australia anticipated keeping its military forces in East Timor for six to 12 months. He also attacked nations that had urged an early withdrawal of peacekeepers over the past four years.

In remarks directed primarily at the US, Japan and Australia, Mr Annan said the violence in East Timor reflected shortcomings not only on the part of the Timorese leadership but also on the part of the international community in inadequately sustaining the country's nation-building process.

"There is a lesson here for all of us," he said. "We (the UN Secretariat) had indicated that the UN should remain in East Timor a bit longer, but governments - some governments - were quite keen that we scale back as quickly as possible."

------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service


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