Subject: Security Council OKs May 20 2002 For E Timor Independence

Also: Lusa: Security Council Discusses Post-Independence Commitment

Associated Press

October 31, 2001

Security Council OKs May 20 2002 For E Timor Independence

UNITED NATIONS (AP)--The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday formally endorsed a recommendation of East Timor's first elected assembly to declare independence on May 20, 2002 and pledged that the United Nations will "remain engaged" in the fledgling nation. [see also UN's detailed summary of meeting:]

The United Nations has been administering the tiny Southeast Asian territory since its people voted overwhelmingly for independence in August 1999, and the Security Council said the world body will maintain a reduced military, police, and civilian presence after independence.

But the council gave no figures on the size of the post-independence U.N. mission and stressed that while members believe a premature withdrawal of the large international presence could be destabilizing, they want to wrap up operations as soon as practical.

"The council agrees that the new mission should be based on the premise that operational responsibilities should be devolved to the East Timorese authorities as soon as this is feasible, and it supports a continuing process of assessment and downsizing over a period of two years, starting from independence," said a formal statement read at the end of an open council meeting.

Secretary-general Kofi Annan has called for a significant U.N. peacekeeping and police presence in East Timor after independence to ensure security for the fledgling nation. East Timor was devastated by Indonesian troops after the U.N.-sponsored independence referendum and the world body currently has about 8,000 peacekeepers in the territory.

U.N. administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello appealed to the council to authorize about 100 international experts to remain after independence. A recently released report said they were essential to provide "government stability," he noted.

Without mentioning any numbers, the council statement said "a core number of civilian positions will be critical to the stability of the independent East Timorese government." The council agreed "that these limited positions will require assessed funding for a period of between six months and two years after independence."

In the 200 days to independence, Vieira de Mello said the United Nations plans to reduce the peacekeeping force to about 5,000 and cut the number of international police by about 400 to 1,240.

He said there had been no infiltration across the border from Indonesian-ruled West Timor during this year's dry season, and the Indonesian armed forces were now providing "more resolute action against hardcore militia in West Timor."

As part of its administration, the United Nations is also training an East Timorese police force.

Vieira de Mello said the current target of training 3,000 officers by April 30, 2003 may be "overly generous" and if the council decides this is the case, the force could be reduced - which could lower the cost and speed deployment.

Nonetheless, he said, "until the East Timorese can assume full responsibility for the maintenance of their internal security through a non-corrupt and effective police force, it will be very difficult for the international community to abdicate its responsibility in this area."

31 Oct 01 22:24 
East Timor: Security Council Discusses Post-Independence Commitment

The United Nations Security Council met Wednesday in New York to discuss Secretary-General Kofi Annan´s recommendation that the UN maintain a reduced but hefty presence in the UN-administered territory following its independence.

Annan´s report to the council also noted that USD 395.6 million of pledged contributions to Dili´s transitional UNTAET administration were still outstanding.

East Timorese Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri and UN transition administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello, who met with Annan Monday, participated in the council discussions.

Mari Alkatiri told the meeting that any post-independence reduction in UN military forces should only be made in consultation with the East Timor government and commanders of the territory`s future armed forces.

Dili`s chief minister also said "the viability of East Timor" depended on the current mandate of UNTAET being prolonged after independence.

"It is for this reason that we consider it supremely important that this council pays special attention to the building of institutions and a gradual transfer of functions for our civil personnel under the protection of gradual and flexible agreements".

The leader of East Timor`s second transition government also told the Security Council it must approve the necessary "material, financial and human resources" for the success of the UN mission, which has to "result in the establishment of a democratic state".

"We are certain that this success will only be sustainable if the UN guarantees to provide aid through established mandatory contributions (of member states), so it can continue supporting civil posts vital to the future mission", stated Alkatiri.

The Timorese chief minister went on to say that reduction in the UN military force was "understandable" and his government "at this moment" supported the contraction.

"Nevertheless, it is our firm belief that the government of East Timor, particularly the commander of our defense force ... must have the opportunity to actively contribute to the debate on reducing the form of peacekeeping", declared Mari Alkatiri, who also called to the UN to maintain its support in "structures and capital", until the independent government was able to replace them.

East Timor's Constituent Assembly, which is currently drawing up the nation`s constitution, has voted for the United Nations to hand over control of the country on May 20, 2002.

CJB -Lusa-

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