|Subject: FT: Annan
proposes UN East Timor force of 8,950
Financial Times Wednesday October 6 1999
EAST TIMOR: Annan proposes UN force of 8,950
By Michael Littlejohns at the United Nations in New York
Kofi Annan, United Nation's secretary-general, yesterday proposed to deploy up to 8,950 peacekeepers and an additional 200 military observers under UN command to replace the present Australian-led force in East Timor with "robust rules of engagement and a rapid reaction capability".
Calling the situation there critical, with essential services collapsing, no doctors, no judicial system and no civil service, he said a UN transitional administration should run the former Portuguese territory until independence. "This process is envisaged to last two-to-three years," he said in submitting recommendations to the security council.
Because the multinational force now on duty could not fill the vacuum in the civil administration, "practical measures must be taken immediately", he urged, adding that this would be a challenge for the UN.
Mr Annan's report, including a provision for 1,640 police officers, was released as Indonesia's President B.J. Habibie insisted in Jakarta that his country's troops had an important role to help create stability, while "an excessive security approach is no longer relevant". He did not address specifically the military's failure to honour a commitment to the UN to preserve order during and after the August 30 East Timor referendum.
The administration proposed by Mr Annan, to be known as UNTAET, would have the task of "rebuilding a structure of governance and administration capable of providing basic public services and a fully functioning administration of justice".
On the military side, the aim was to ensure a smooth transition to a traditional UN operation in close co-operation with the present force which was assembled within days to deal with the dire emergency. In contrast, the UN generally needs weeks or even months to gather and deploy troops.
Among the tasks for the UN force were monitoring of the prompt, complete withdrawal of remaining Indonesian military and security personnel, measures to disarm and demobilise "armed groups" - a reference to the pro-Jakarta militias that have been rampaging since the independence vote was confirmed last month - and assistance for the safe return of refugees and displaced persons.
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