Subject: LUSA: FM Ramos Horta appeals for UN mandate extension to 2006

19-05-2003 12:18:00. Notícia nº SIR-5037719 Temas: new destaque1 East Timor: FM Ramos Horta appeals for UN mandate extension to 2006

Dili, May 19 (Lusa) - Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta has appealed, on the eve of East Timor's first independence anniversary, for a new extension of the United Nations' mission to aid the country in consolidating its public administration and security.

Ramos Horta, interviewed by Lusa at the weekend, acknowledged that it would be difficult to get a positive response to his plea because East Timor had an "image of success" abroad.

The Nobel Peace laureate said the UN should extend its UNMISET mission, which involves civilian, police and peacekeeping contingents, beyond its recently approved one-year extension to next May "at least to 2006".

Speaking to Lusa in Dili Saturday, Ramos Horta was especially adamant that the UN prolong its commitment to provide some 300 civilian aides in public administration.

He noted that one year after East Timor's May 20, 2002, independence, many of those promised posts remained unfilled - either because of Dili's lack of definition, the scarcity of donor financing or delays in international red tape.

As to security forces, Ramos Horta, said there likely was no need to extend the presence of peacekeeping contingents but that Dili wanted "at least 300 military monitors" to stay through 2006.

Under the current UNMISET mandate extension, approved by the Security Council in April, peacekeepers are to be pruned back gradually to 1,750 by the end of this year and entirely pulled out by next May.

The relative low levels of criminality and political violence one year after independence, Ramos Horta stressed, were making Dili's concerns a hard-sell abroad.

"Our success victimizes East Timor in a certain manner", he said.

"When I try to sensitize Washington, Europe or the UN to avoid a reduction, to think about the future beyond next May, they laugh and show statistics from Afghanistan, Kosovo, the Middle East and two- thirds of Africa".

Separately, UNMISET chief Kamalesh Sharma praised East Timor's political leadership, in comments to Lusa Monday, saying thay had always opted for "the highest principles of democracy and human rights".

"There is a perception at the UN that East Timor has made notable progress in establishing the bases of an independent nation", Sharma said, adding that it was "unjust" to expect from Dili in one year "dividends" that other countries "took years to achieve".


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