Subject: LUSA: Insecurity creating rift between Dili leadership, UN mission

14-01-2003 13:41:00. Notícia nº 4542279

East Timor: Insecurity creating rift between Dili leadership, UN mission

Dili, Jan. 14 (Lusa) - The atmosphere of instability looming over East Timor is leading to a deterioration of relations between national and UN security structures.

The tensions, which first surfaced during deadly riots in Dili on Dec. 4, have deepened after recent attacks on villages by unidentified gangs southwest if Dili and confirmation that armed bands of former anti-independence militias are infiltrating from Indonesia.

Timorese Defense Force units dispatched by President Xanana Gusmao to the southwest Atsabe region last week have complained of a "lack of support" from and insufficient communication with the UN peacekeeping force (PKF), which remains primarily responsible for security, despite East Timor's having achieved independence last May 20.

Dili's leadership, which publicly criticized the UN's "morose" response to the December riots, has called for the UN mandate and the form of its implementation to be reassessed to help quell mounting instability.

The tension between Dili and the UN mission, UNMISET, has also been aggravated by the growing lack of information offered by the UN, both to media and to its Timorse counterparts.

Local and international media grumble about the "strange silence" following the arrival of UNMISET chief Kamalesh Sharma eight months ago, while senior Defense Force officers complain they are providing much more information to UN security officials than they get in return.

Timorese leaders, both government and military, and some international officials contacted by Lusa suggested the lack of information and comment from UNMISET on the recent violence and instability aim to "not rock the boat".

"The prime interest at senior UN levels is not to mess with the (UN) withdrawal calendar", set for June 2004, an international official told Lusa.

"To publicise the current tension lived here would go against this objective and could put the (withdrawal) timetable at risk", added the official.

Senior Defense Force officers told Lusa they needed more equipment and a broader mandate from UNMISET to continue with counter- insurgency operations in the southwest.

"Our operations have been restricted (by the UN) to a limited zone, and the armed groups simply slip away" to areas patrolled by the PKF only within urban perimeters, said one chief-of-staff officer.

"We don't want more arms", he added. "We need more transport, better communications systems and nighttime capacity, which we don't have".

ASP/SAS -Lusa-

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