Subject: Age: E Timor calls for an extended UN mission

East Timor calls for an extended UN mission

Ian Munro

December 8, 2007

EAST Timor is pressing for an extension of the United Nations mission (UNMIT) to support the country's fledgling democracy.

While the country's political and security situation was calm and stable, it was also fragile according to the leader of the council's mission to East Timor, South African ambassador Dumisani Kumalo.

Mr Kumalo said it was urgent that the Government reform the police and the military after last year's crisis when mass resignations from the army in protest over working conditions and promotion led to violence.

"Everyone we met called for the presence of UNMIT in the country to be continued," he said.

There was a general view that while the country was experiencing stability and peace, the numbers of displaced persons and army deserters created uncertainty and division among the population and political leadership, he said.

Mr Kumalo said last year's violence still haunted East Timor and its leaders. About 100,000 displaced persons remain in 53 camps dotted about the country.

East Timor ambassador Nelson Santos said the atmosphere of peace and security was welcome, but it should not be replaced by complacency or a premature celebration.

He said the Government and people of East Timor were doing all they could to consolidate peace and stability.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will soon visit the country as part of his trip to Asia.

UNMIT was extended in February for 12 months. The Security Council will decide on a further extension of the mission when the present mandate expires.

The mission already has indicated it might need to stay on for another three to five years in line with a request by President Jose Ramos Horta.

[a transcript of the Security Council briefing on the delegation visit can be found at http://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?Open&DS=S/PV.5791&Lang=E]


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