Subject: LUSA: UN chief proposes sharp cut in peacekeeping force

Also - AP: Annan Wants UN To Shift Focus In E Timor

18-02-2004 10:48:00 GMT . Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-5829121 Temas: East Timor: UN chief proposes sharp cut in peacekeeping force

Dili, Feb. 18 (Lusa) - United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan has recommended that the UN's peacekeeping mission in East Timor continues after its planned May withdrawal, but with a significant reduction in personnel.

Lusa has seen a report prepared by Annan on the UN's role in Timor beyond its scheduled May 20 pullout and this document will guide discussions between the 15 members of the UN Security Council, who meet Friday to recommend the scale of the extended mission.

In his report, Annan describes the one-year prolongment of the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) as a "consolidation phase".

Outlining his plans for the UN`s future support to Timor`s civil structures, Annan recommended "the extension of UNMISET for another year in a reduced form and with another type of mandate".

"I recommend the maintenance of a group of 58 civil advisors to support public administration and the judicial system".

A UN 1,750-strong peacekeeping force is currently stationed in Timor and Annan said only 310 "blue berets" should remain in the nation after May 20.

The trimmed down force of peacekeepers would be deployed in "border areas" and have "rapid reaction capability" with an airborne infantry company, he said.

Annan also proposed that he UN's police force in Timor, currently comprising about 500 officers, should be reduced to just 157 personal and have the main role of advising Timor`s national force.

Forty-two military liaison officers would also be required in the enclave of Oecussi and border regions, he said, with the UN police and military liaison teams being protected by the main peacekeeping force.

The UN Security Council will only take a final decision of Annan's proposals in March, but observers in Dili said this week`s talks on the scale of the extended mission "will give a true picture" of the world body's presence in Timor after May 20.



Annan Wants UN To Shift Focus In E Timor

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 18 (AP)--Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the withdrawal of almost all U.N. peacekeepers in East Timor and a shift in the U.N.'s focus to helping the newly independent country consolidate its political institutions.

In a report to the Security Council on Wednesday, Annan proposed a one-year extension of the U.N. mission. Such extensions are routine for U.N. missions and peacekeeping operations.

The council is expected to debate the report Friday.

The report follows a visit last month by a U.N. team to Asia's poorest country, which gained independence in 2002 following four centuries of Portuguese rule and 24 years of brutal Indonesian occupation.

Annan said that while East Timor has made considerable progress in building the structures of a nation, such as a judicial system and police force, it still needs help as the current U.N. mandate prepares to run out on May 20.

"I am convinced that a comparatively modest additional effort can make a crucial difference in broadening the scope and increasing the sustainability of the remarkable achievements that have already been made," Annan wrote in the report.

When the people of East Timor voted for independence in 1999, the Indonesian military and its proxy militias responded by laying waste to the former province, killing 1,500 Timorese and forcing 300,000 from their homes.

The United Nations administered the territory for 2 1/2 years, then handed it to the Timorese on May 20, 2002 - after establishing a new administration, judiciary, police force and army, in addition to overseeing the first democratic elections.

About 3,000 international peacekeepers are now stationed in East Timor to support its fledgling army, along with about 500 U.N. police officers. Another 1,000 U.N. staffers provide technical assistance for government departments, including in banking, civil aviation and public works.

Annan said in the report he wants to cut that down to 310 military personnel - including an infantry company and air support - 58 civilian advisers, 157 police advisers and 42 military liaison officers.

Under the modified mandate designed to cover a "consolidation phase", the U.N. mission would provide assistance to the country's justice system and core administrative structures, contribute to development of the national police and help maintain security, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has said the United Nations should stay in the country until 2006.

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