Subject: E Timor police take back first district

also East Timor set for police switch


E Timor police take back first district

Posted 4 hours 12 minutes ago

In East Timor, the United Nations has handed over formal control of a district to local police for the first time since the country's political crisis of 2006.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao addressed the crowd at the handover ceremony in Lautem, saying other districts could follow suit within weeks.

United Nations spokesman Kieran Dwyer says the UN took on police authority in the wake of the 2006 military rebellion.

"And now three years later, just under three years later, this is the first district to take responsibility back for policing authority," he said.

"So it is a big moment, and the Prime Minister's presence here signals that it's a very proud moment in the restoration and the stabilising of the country."


East Timor set for police switch

By Lucy Williamson BBC News, Jakarta []

East Timor says it is set to take back responsibility for policing in the country.

The United Nations has overseen policing there since a security crisis three years ago led to the near-disintegration of the police force.

The handover, which has been postponed before, is due to begin in the eastern district of Lautem.

This moment has been a long time in the making, and the stabilisers are not coming off completely.

UN forces will hand over formal control of policing, but they will not actually leave.

They will stay in the district to monitor progress and lend support - support which is likely to be logistical.

East Timor's police do not have the resources to do the job without them.

In many places they lack basic equipment like vehicles and radios.

One observer even reported a district police station without a roof.

But nevertheless, this is a key test for East Timor - of whether its police force has evolved from the weak, politicised institution that imploded in 2006.

There have been changes, but there have also been financial scandals and violent confrontations.

And that is the second test being run here - a test of the UN and whether using a vast police contingent drawn from dozens of countries to train a national force actually works.

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