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Departing UN Envoy Warns Of Black Hole Of Conflict

Departing UN Envoy Warns Timor-Leste Of The Danger Of ‘Black Hole’ Of Conflict

New York, Sep 22 2006 3:00PM

Giving his final press conference today after four years in Timor-Leste, the top United Nations envoy warned the country’s leaders that the tiny South-East Asian nation could be sucked into a “black hole” of conflict following the upsurge of violence earlier this year and amid continued tension, especially in the capital Dili.

Sukehiro Hasegawa, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said he had repeated this warning in discussions with Timorese over the past few weeks, during which he travelled to six sub-districts. But he added his most recent discussions had given him cause for optimism.

“I stressed the importance of the national leaders and the people of this country to do everything possible to avoid falling into what I call conflict trap. It is a black hole – a conflict trap – that has the potential to suck the people into a conflict from which it will be very difficult to get out,” he said.

“In response to your question of what is the worst moment of my tenure here, sadly it is the most recent political and security crisis. Because it has overshadowed much of the good work that this country has achieved with the assistance of the United Nations… [As a result of dialogue I have had] during the last few days, I am more confident than before that Timor-Leste has a good chance of avoiding this kind of [conflict] trap.

Describing the security situation as “very fragile and volatile,” especially in Dili, Mr. Hasegawa said he was “very concerned” at signs that disturbances at camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) were becoming organised.

He also confirmed that the Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste that is investigating the violence in April and May, which led to the deaths of 37 people and displaced over 150,000 others, is expected to release recommendations in about two to three weeks.

“Once that report is published, the Timorese leaders and people will have the opportunity to discuss what indeed can be done to move forward… I would like to stress that in all the districts that I have visited over the last two to three weeks, there has been maintenance of law and order, and the functioning of civil administratio΅ “ and they find it necessary that perhaps reconciliation should be initiated at the top national level.

Mr. Hasegawa stressed it was “critically important” that next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections are held in a free, fair and credible manner, and reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to the nation that it shepherded to independence from Indonesia in 2002.

“The process of peacebuilding, nation-building is also not only a time-consuming exercise, but it also requires changes in the culture of governance and mindset of people. And this is a very difficult part of nation-building. So, I think the United Nations will be engaged, very much, in making a difference and changes in the process of governing this country even with the installation of a new culture of democratic governance.

Ends

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