Subject: RT/AP: UN Council seeks to expand East Timor mission

UN Council seeks to expand East Timor mission Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:34 AM ET

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council renewed for two months on Tuesday its political mission in East Timor while U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan considers adding security personnel to the U.N. operation.

In a resolution adopted unanimously, the 15-member council requested Annan to provide by August 7 a report on a "strengthened presence" of the world body in the western Pacific country.

The young nation was plunged into violence in May after Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri dismissed 600 of the 1,400-strong army for mutiny when they protested over alleged discrimination against soldiers from the west of the country.

Since then, rebel troops and thousands of protesters have called for Alkatiri's removal, blaming him for the violence that has seen youth gangs fighting, looting and burning buildings in Dili, the capital.

A 2,700-strong Australian-led peacekeeping force now patrols the capital but the United Nations is contemplating sending police and possibly troops to East Timor.

The U.N. Security Council shut down its peacekeeping force last month, leaving a small political mission in the country.

Annan last week said he was sending an assessment mission to East Timor for a possible return of U.N. peacekeepers but said any new mission would need months to set up.

But U.S. Ambassador John Bolton questioned U.N. peacekeepers returning to East Timor, telling reporters on Monday that the latest turmoil was unrelated to East Timor's independence from Indonesia in 2000 that prompted the original U.N. troop and police presence.

The United States voted, however, in favor of the resolution asking Annan to plan for a larger operation.

The United Nations in 2000 sent some 7,500 peacekeepers to East Timor that replaced a previous Australian-led force, which quelled violence by Jakarta's troops and allied militia.

In Tuesday's resolution, the Security Council expressed "deep concern over the volatile security situation" and condemned "continuing acts of violence against people and destruction of property."

A former Portuguese colony, East Timor, some 1,300 miles east of Jakarta, was occupied by Indonesia at the end of 1975. It became independent in 2002 after being run by the United Nations for two-and-half years following an independence referendum in August 1999.


Security Council urges all parties in East Timor to refrain from violence

UNITED NATIONS_The U.N. Security Council extended the mandate of the U.N. office in East Timor for two months on Tuesday and urged all parties in the beleaguered nation to refrain from violence and take part in the democratic process.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the council expressed deep concern at "the volatile security situation" in East Timor and the serious humanitarian repercussions.

East Timor has been hit by unrest and political tensions since March, when Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri fired about 600 soldiers. They clashed with rival factions in the security forces, and in one incident soldiers gunned down 10 unarmed police officers.

The fighting gave way last month to widespread street violence. At least 30 people have been killed, and almost 150,000 others have fled their homes. The fighting has ebbed since an Australian-led peacekeeping force arrived in the country but most of those who fled remain in camps, scared to return to their houses.

The resolution condemned "continuing acts of violence against people and destruction of property." It urged all parties in East Timor "to refrain from violence and to participate in the democratic process."

The unrest in East Timor is the most serious threat to the desperately poor country since it won independence from Indonesia in 1999. The Indonesian military and its proxy militias responded by laying waste to the former province, killing 1,500 Timorese and forcing 300,000 from their homes. An Australian-led force helped restore order.

The United Nations administered the territory for 2 1/2 years, then handed it to the Timorese on May 20, 2002. The U.N. peacekeeping force that took over from the Australians was scaled back and wrapped up.

A U.N. political mission that replaced it had been scheduled to shut down on May 20. But on May 12, the council extended its mandate for a month as it weighed a possible response to the violence that began in April.

The resolution adopted Tuesday extends the mandate of the U.N. office until Aug. 20 "with a view to planning for the role of the United Nations following the expiration of the mandate."

It backed the deployment of international troops from Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia and called on donor countries "to respond urgently and positively" to an appeal for aid to East Timor.

The council also welcomed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's initiative in asking U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to establish an independent inquiry into several killings in response to a request from East Timor's government. The inquiry will include an April 28 attack on protesters, a May 25 shooting by soldiers on unarmed police, and a deadly siege of the former interior minister's home.

Back to June menu
May menu      
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu