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Democracy in Timor-Leste, but aid still needed

Democratic governance taking hold in Timor-Leste but aid still needed – Annan

Timor-Leste has continued to consolidate its democratic governance but some international political presence should remain there until the end of next year’s elections, long after the mandate of the United Nations mission in the country is due to expire, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report released today.

In his latest report on the UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), which will be discussed by the Security Council on Monday, Mr. Annan described the nascent country as remaining “generally calm and stable” but said “much remained to be done.”

“I strongly believe that while the future of the country rests with the Timorese people and their Government, the international community should remain engaged in Timor-Leste beyond 20 May 2006, when the UNOTIL mandate expires,” the Secretary General said.

One of the issues that Mr. Annan highlighted was the need to complete delineation of the land border with Indonesia, but in particular he said a “major challenge” facing the country in the near term would be the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007.

“I would welcome the Security Council’s suggestions regarding appropriate ways and means of assisting Timor-Leste to face this challenge, which could have a significant impact on the long-term peace and stability of the country,” the Secretary-General said, pointing out that these elections would be the first of their kind since the country gained independence in 2002.

A development conference in April would also be an important opportunity for the international community to demonstrate its commitment to Timor Leste, Mr. Annan said, while adding that prevailing opinion among Timorese stakeholders also backs an international political presence until the end of next year’s polls.

In the past five months, the period covered by this latest report, Mr. Annan said UNOTIL had focused increasingly on identifying development partners to take over functions that will need to continue beyond its mandate, so as to “ensure a smooth and rapid transition to a sustainable development framework.”

The Secretary-General said UNOTIL had also made progress in handing over some responsibilities to the Timor-Leste Government, while the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had agreed to take over some of UNOTIL’s roles after May 20.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had also agreed to provide assistance and so too various bilateral development partners, including Australia, Brazil, the United States and several other countries and world bodies.

UNOTIL is also planning to complete all training programmes for Timorese national police by 20 May. Five of its civilian adviser positions would be phased out by the same date, but Mr. Annan said 40 of these posts would still be required “to support the development of critical State institutions.”

UNOTIL was set up in May 2005 to succeed the UN Mission of Support in Timor-Leste (UNMISET), which was established in 2002 to help with administrative structures, law enforcement and security after the country gained independence from Indonesia.

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