Security Council establishes expanded UN mission in TimorLeste

The Security Council today unanimously approved a resolution creating a new and expanded United Nations mission in Timor-Leste, citing ongoing threats to the stability of the South-East Asian country.The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) is a follow-on mission to the UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), which the Council created last year as a special political mission to carry out peacebuilding activities.Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta had urged the Council to create such an expanded mission following the wave of violence that swept the young country earlier this year.UNMIT’s mandate includes improving security, providing economic assistance, and supporting next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections, the country’s first since gaining independence from Indonesia in 2002.The new mission will consist of a civilian component, including as much as 1,608 police personnel, and up to 34 military liaison and staff officers initially.“Ideally, it would have been better to have a military component, but this was not acceptable to all the members of the Council,” Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng of Ghana, which holds the Council presidency for August, told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.“There are some countries which are trying to assist Timor-Leste in the military area on a bilateral basis, so we think that they will play a complementary, supportive role.”According to the resolution, the Council will consider possible adjustments to the mission’s structure, including the nature and size of the military component, in the coming months.Timor-Leste is still recovering from the violence earlier this year that left dozens dead and forced some 155,000 people to flee their homes. The clashes erupted when the Government dismissed about 600 soldiers who had gone on strike.

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