Subject: Lusa: Dili's Portuguese UN police commander resigns, interference alleged

East Timor: Dili's Portuguese UN police commander resigns, interference alleged

Dili, Oct. 24 (Lusa) - The Portuguese commander of police in the East Timorese capital has resigned in protest over alleged government "interference" in operational affairs, UN police officials said Friday.

Commissioner António Leitão da Silva confirmed to Lusa that he had presented his resignation Thursday to UN superiors, but declined to specify the reasons for his action.

Dili is the last of East Timor's 13 districts where police forces remain under the command of UN officers.

Command of the capital's police is scheduled to pass to a Timorese officer in December, completing the transfer of police authority in the country.

A UN police official told Lusa Leitão da Silva, whose resignation takes effect Saturday, stepped down early because of repeated "political interference in police operational decisions." He pointed to the offices of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Interior Minister Rogério Lobato as chiefly responsible for the alleged interference.

"There's a parallel structure within the East Timorese National Police that doesn't show even minimal respect for the role and decisions of the international police command", the UN officer said.

The UN mission in East Timor, known by the acronym UNMISET, of which the police contingent is a part, is gradually being phased down ahead of the end of its mandate next May.

ASP/SAS Lusa


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