Subject: AFP: Revamped East Timor police force ready in January: PM

Agence France Presse -- English

December 27, 2006 Wednesday 8:50 PM GMT

Revamped East Timor police force ready in January: PM

LISBON, Dec 27 2006

The restructuring of violence-wracked East Timor's rapid reaction police force will be completed early next year, East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said Wednesday.

"The first agents will be operational by the end of January," he told Portugal's Lusa news agency in the East Timorese capital Dili.

The rapid intervention unit is being jointly retrained by the interior ministry and the United Nations mission in the former Portuguese colony.

The government decided to restructure the unit after it failed to contain a wave of violence between rival police and army factions that swept Dili in April and May following the sacking of 600 soldiers by then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

The unrest led to the deaths of at least 37 people and forced about 155,000 people, or 15 per cent of East Timor's population, to flee their homes.

Stability has largely returned to East Timor following the arrival of foreign peacekeepers at Dili's request and the installation of a new government in July headed by Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

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