Subject: RA: UN in disarray as new envoy appointment revoked

Last Updated 2/10/2006 8:03:41 PM

TIMOR: UN in disarray as new envoy appointment revoked

The U-N mission in East Timor has been thrown into disarray with the appointment of the new mission chief revoked. Antonio Macarenhas Monteiro was appointed as Timor's new UN envoy earlier this month to replace the outgoing Sukehiro Hasegawa. That leaves Timor without a U-N head of mission and the timing couldn't be worse, with more violence on the streets of Dili this week.

Presenter/Interviewer: Linda LoPresti

Speakers: Finne Reske-Nielson, UN's acting envoy in East Timor

RESKE-NIELSON: I'm actually not in the position to tell you anything about that, because these are decisions that have been made in New York and I only have the same information that you have in terms of what the situation is regarding the appointment of the new special representative secretary-general. As you know, Mr Hasegawa , ended his assignment here last Friday and the secretary-general then asked me to assume the functions as acting special representative pending the appointment of the substantive UN representative, that's all I can share with you at this point in time.

LOPRESTI: Well if asked, would you consider being Timor's UN permanent envoy?

RESKE-NIELSON: I have no comment to make on that, because it is the perogative of the secretary-general to make the appointment and he's asked me to be the acting special representative and I've taken on those functions as of last Friday.

LOPRESTI: All right, well let's talk about the situation in Timor. Mr Hasegawa's in his final press conference warned that Timor could be sucked into a black hole of conflict, given the violence early this year and the continuing tensions in Dili. And just this week, there was more tension on the streets of Dili with riot police being called in to use tear gas to disperse groups of youths. How do you see the security situation in Dili at this time?

RESKE-NIELSON: Over the past few days, we have seen an increase in the level of violence and the security situation remains fragile and volatile, especially in Dili. We've seen a situation where there's been violent confrontations between rival factions and this is I suspect in part gang related and in part linking with the political situation in the country.

LOPRESTI: There's still a situation where there are tens-of-thousands of East Timorese in refugee camps still too afraid to return home. What is the UN doing to ease that situation?

RESKE-NIELSON: Well, first the immediate concern is to ensure that sufficient humanitarian supports provided to these people in the camps that we still have dotted around Dili in the Dili area. And that humanitarian support has now been provided for several months and that is proceeding smoothly and all the basic needs are taken care of.

As regards the finding a solution to this problem, we are engaged in consultations with the government and all the other players in order to help facilitate a dialogue hopefully leading to reconciliation both at the leadership level and at the community level.

LOPRESTI: Isn't your view that the UN has lifted its game in Timor, given that it did come under some criticism for its handling of the violence early this year, even by Kofi Annan. Do you believe now that the UN is actually taking a greater role, a greater responsibility?

RESKE-NIELSON: If we go back to the beginning of the year, the decisions that were made by the Security Council were that the UN mission should be more or less phased out at the end of its regular mandate in May. But following the events of April and May, the Security Council has of course since decided to upgrade the mission significantly and to give it a much broader mandate than the previous mission had. So I don't think there's any doubt that we have lifted our game in Timor.

LOPRESTI: Now next year, Timor will hold presidential and parliamentary elections. How involved will the UN be in that election process to ensure that there is a new culture of democratic governance in East Timor?

RESKE-NIELSON: The mandate that we have been given by the UN Security Council is to provide technical and logistical support, including policy advice to the electoral process and we have also been authorised to verify or certify the elections and the way this is being operationalised, is that we will have a rather large electoral component under the new mission which will compromise well over 400 electoral advisers and United Nations volunteers that would provide the logistical and technical support.

At the same time, it is expected that there would be an independent certification team compromised of internationally renowned electoral experts who will be charged to monitor the electoral process and at the end of each phase certify that it has been conducted in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

LOPRESTI: And given that Mr Hasegawa has departed from his role as the UN envoy in Timor, and given that Mr Monteiro's appointment has been evoked. Do you expect to be in Timor next year for those elections?

RESKE-NIELSON: Well I expect to be here, because I have been in this country since the beginning of September when I was appointed by the secretary-general as deputy special representative for a one year period, with particular responsibility for the electoral process. 

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