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Troops to Ensure Smooth Elections in Timor-Leste

New Zealand Defence Force -Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006.

New Zealand Troops to Ensure Smooth Elections in Timor-Leste

A fresh contingent of 150 New Zealand Defence Force personnel will leave for Timor-Leste on Thursday for a six-month deployment which will include the country's all important May elections.

The contingent will depart from Ohakea Air Force Base on November 23 to relieve the 142 New Zealand soldiers who have been working hard to ensure security in Timor-Leste over the past six months.

The new contingent, led by Lieutenant Colonel Kent Collard, will help oversee the Pacific nation's second ever democratic elections in May next year.

Lieutenant Colonel Collard, who is currently being briefed in Timor-Leste, said his company group would do all they could to ensure the electoral process ran smoothly.

"We will do our best to create a safe and secure environment where the Timorese people can freely make up their own minds about who will govern their country. I think those deploying with me later this month see the job as a worthy and exciting challenge."

The New Zealand contingent will work alongside about 930 Australian troops to help ensure security in the country.

Kiwi troops will assist UN police in Dili's CBD and the districts to the east while Australian forces will work in central suburbs, Dili Airport and the districts to the west.

New Zealand has contributed to various United Nations missions and peacekeeping efforts in Timor-Leste since 1999.

The latest contribution, of which the upcoming deployment is the second rotation, began after unrest in May this year at the request of Timor's foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta. Mr Horta is now the country's prime minister.

ENDS

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