|Subject: WP: U.N. Plans To Send Troops to
E. Timor [+More Police; ]
The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
U.N. Plans To Send Troops to E. Timor
Goal Is to Help Maintain Order Before Elections
By Colum Lynch Washington Post Staff Writer
UNITED NATIONS, June 13 -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that he has begun preparing to send a new U.N. peacekeeping force to East Timor by early next year, saying that the United States and other Security Council members withdrew U.N. troops too soon, leaving a power vacuum that contributed to the country's descent into chaos last month.
The new U.N. mission would replace an Australian-led multinational force of about 2,700 troops that intervened in East Timor last month to quell fighting between military factions, which threatened the stability of the world's youngest independent nation. A senior U.N. envoy, Ian Martin, told reporters that the mission would provide law and order primarily in Dili, the capital, in advance of East Timor's May 2007 presidential and legislative elections.
"There is a lesson here for all of us," Annan told reporters after a Security Council meeting. "We had indicated that the U.N. should remain in East Timor a bit longer, but governments -- some governments -- were quite keen that we scale back as quickly as possible. Given what has happened, we are reassessing our own presence on the ground."
The decision to prepare a new mission -- which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to run and would require Security Council approval -- follows a sustained U.S. campaign to shut down U.N. peacekeeping operations in East Timor since it gained independence in May 2002.
A U.S. representative, Jackie W. Sanders, told the council on Tuesday that the United Nations would have to consider a "follow-on mission" that would help administer East Timor's elections. But she stopped short of endorsing the need for a new peacekeeping mission.
Annan said he is sending an assessment team to East Timor to determine the size of the mission that would be required. He said it would be at least six months before a peacekeeping force could be sent. But he added that "it is obvious that the U.N. will have to go back . . . in a much larger form than we are at the moment."
Annan has also asked the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, to conduct an investigation into the latest upsurge of violence in East Timor. Meanwhile, he appealed to Australia, Portugal, New Zealand and Malaysia to keep their troops there until a U.N. mission is ready to take over.
A force of about 7,500 U.N. peacekeepers went to East Timor in 2000, replacing a previous Australian-led multinational force, to help the former Portuguese colony gain independence after more than 25 years of Indonesian rule. The U.N. Security Council shut down the peacekeeping force in May 2005, leaving a small political mission to help the government run its courts and deliver key services.
At the time, the Bush administration rejected an appeal from Annan to leave a "reassuring presence" of 144 U.N. peacekeepers to help with the transition. Stuart W. Holliday, who oversaw U.N. peacekeeping while he was an ambassador for political affairs at the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said American diplomats reached a compromise to leave a small mission. "You can't draw the logical conclusion that this would have been prevented with the presence of U.N. peacekeepers," he said in a recent interview.
Tensions erupted this spring after a group of 594 soldiers fired from the military organized demonstrations against what they contended was discrimination against soldiers from the country's western region. More than 14,000 civilians fled from their homes as the protests turned violent.
Despite the rise in violence, the United States pressed again for the United Nations to shut down its political mission there. East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, appealed to the Security Council in early May for a "modest yet robust" force of about 150 U.N. police officers to be sent to his country to help restore calm in advance of the elections. "The decision is in your hands," he said. "And this decision will decisively influence the course of events in my country, for good or bad."
The U.S. representative at the meeting, William J. Brencick, said that the United States was not prepared to support an even more modest U.N. proposal to reinforce its political mission in the run-up to the elections. Three weeks later, East Timor's military and police force fell apart as fighting broke out.
ABC June 14, 2006
E Timor asks UN for more police
East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta has asked the United Nations for up to 900 multi-national police to help curb violence in his country.
He put the request in a letter to the United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan.
Dr Ramos Horta says East Timor needs about 870 multi-national police to maintain law and order for at least a year.
He has told Mr Annan that East Timor's own police force imploded six weeks ago, when the country plunged into civil chaos.
He has proposed a UN force that would include a specialised and rapid reaction team in the capital Dili and key regions, with only limited policing in outer districts.
He says UN police should stay until next year's parliamentary and presidential elections.
Dr Ramos Horta has also urged the UN to extend its mandate in East Timor for at least one more month after it expires next week.
UN special envoy Ian Martin on Tuesday called for UN peacekeepers to return to East Timor.
Mr Martin told the UN Security Council that international assistance should extend from actual policing to long-term development of a national police force.
Mr Annan dispatched Mr Martin to East Timor after riots broke out in the capital Dili in late April following the dismissal of 594 soldiers.
There has been sporadic violence since, driving some 133,000 people from their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said this week.
Australia, Portugal, Malaysia and New Zealand sent troops and police to the world's youngest nation last month after the violence.
------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service