Subject: BBC: UN police eye East Timor handover

UN police eye East Timor handover

By Lucy Williamson

BBC News, Jakarta []

UN police in East Timor are considering returning responsibility to the local force earlier than planned following problems with a mentoring programme.

East Timor's police force disintegrated in Dili during a spate of political violence two years ago.

That violence prompted the return of UN security forces, with a mandate to vet and re-train the force.

But since then the relationship between the two organisations has rapidly deteriorated.

One timetable seen by the BBC suggests the handover could begin as early as next month, with responsibility for one district and the police academy being handed over to the Timorese force.

Originally, the plan was for UN mentoring and oversight to continue until the end of this year, but there has been resistance to the programme from Timor's police, and UN staff privately admit that some of the mentoring has been patchy.

Giving the domestic force responsibility early, they say, will not mean the UN pulling out its forces, but will give Timorese officers a chance to test their capabilities.

Divisions between the two have grown since attacks on Timor's president and prime minister in February put the police temporarily under the authority of Timor's army.

In a sign of the growing tension, a recent disagreement between Timorese and international police at a bar in Dili led to weapons being drawn and requests being made for reinforcements.

Page last updated at 09:04 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 10:04 UK

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