Subject: ETimor president wants UN presence until 2012 [+Australian: Former Victorian Premier To Advise Gusmao]

also: Australian: Bracks finds new role in East Timor

ETimor president wants UN presence until 2012

DILI, Aug 30 (AFP) -- East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta wants the United Nations to maintain a presence in the tiny nation until 2012, he told visiting Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer on Thursday.

Ramos-Horta also reiterated an earlier request made to Australian Prime Minister John Howard during his visit here last month for Australian troops to stay in East Timor until the end of next year.

Some 900 Australian troops are currently in East Timor after being deployed in May last year to restore calm after local security force factions clashed on the streets of the capital Dili, leaving at least 37 people dead.

"I told the foreign minister that I want to see the UN presence here extended for up to five years," Ramos-Horta told reporters after meeting with Downer during his lightning stop here on the anniversary of East Timor's 1999 independence vote.

"In terms of the United Nations, both the police and civilians should remain here till 2012, obviously downsizing as the situation in Dili improves and consolidates," Ramos-Horta said.

The UN mission's current mandate expires in February next year. The Australian-led International Stabilisation Force is providing support to some 1,700 UN police patrolling here.

The president said that the "major and profound reforms" required in the police and defence forces would take a significant amount of time.

Downer also announced a boosted aid package worth 214 million Australian dollars (174 million dollars) over four years. It includes a 28 million Australian dollar rural water supply and sanitation project that he signed an agreement for with his East Timorese counterpart, Zacarias Albano.

The two ministers also inked a deal covering a land exchange for the embassies of the two nations.

Downer also attended a speech in parliament by Ramos-Horta in a ceremony to mark the eighth anniversary of the independence vote.

Australia's perceived support for the East Timorese referendum, in which the majority of people voted to break away from occupying Indonesia, damaged Canberra's relations with Jakarta, a rift that took years to repair.

Downer's visit comes amid ongoing sporadic violence and tensions in the oil-and-gas-rich but impoverished nation in the aftermath of the new government of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao being sworn in earlier this month.

Apparent sympathisers of the former ruling party Fretilin have run amok in Dili and other parts of the country since the announcement of the new government, with dozens of homes burned and intermittent street battles.

Fretilin has been insisting it should have been asked to form a government as it won the most votes in inconclusive June elections. Gusmao however cobbled together a coalition with an absolute majority of parliamentary seats.

Some 850 Australian troops are working within the ISF, while 50 Australian police officers have also been seconded to the UN Police.

The anniversary of the 1999 referendum is a public holiday in East Timor. Violence surrounding the vote, blamed on militias backed by Indonesia's military, saw some 1,400 people killed.

After the vote, East Timor was put under UN administration before it finally achieved independence in May 2002.


The Australian Friday, August 31, 2007

Bracks finds new role in East Timor

Rick Wallace, Victorian political reporter

TONY Blair decided to try to bring peace to the Middle East when he stepped down as British prime minister. Now Steve Bracks hopes to do the same for East Timor.

The former Victorian premier has taken a post advising new Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on establishing a stable government in the coming months.

Mr Bracks has taken on the job pro bono but will be supported in flying to and from East Timor by the philanthropic trust of prominent advertising identity Harold Mitchell.

He said yesterday he was humbled by the opportunity to help Mr Gusmao stabilise the strife-torn nation and establish a strong public service and rigorous government procedures.

"(This) is a position, which is a pro-bono position, which the Prime Minister of East Timor has asked me to undertake and that is to assist in the early days of his administration, in the establishment of his Government, in the establishment of key government departments, and the scrutiny and advice those departments receive and looking at the 100-day plan for the East Timorese people," he said.

"I have a strong relationship with the current administration in East Timor. I am very honoured but in some ways daunted by it because I don't think it's going to be an easy task.

"But I will do my best ... to assist in that early period which is so crucial in setting up good systems of government."

Mr Gusmao was recently named Prime Minister after several years in the position of president of East Timor, which won independence from Indonesia in 2002.

The move was announced in a press release from Mr Gusmao's office, which said Mr Bracks was "seen as one of the most successful premiers in Victorian history and has been a good friend of Timor-Leste".

Mr Bracks has established ties with Mr Gusmao and President Jose Ramos-Horta, and his wife, Terry, has developed a strong relationship with Mr Gusmao's Australian-born wife, Kirsty Sword-Gusmao.


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