TimorLeste Ban encouraged by progress since 2006 crisis

In late April 2006, fighting – attributed to differences between eastern and western regions – erupted when 600 striking soldiers, or one-third of the armed forces, were fired. Ensuing violence claimed dozens of lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.In the more than two years since that crisis, Timor-Leste, which the UN shepherded to independence in 2002, has “made remarkable progress in overcoming the most visible reminders of that year,” Mr. Ban writes in his latest report on the UN mission in the country (UNMIT).Last February, President José Ramos-Horta sustained serious injuries, while Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão escaped unscathed in two separate attacks.Since those incidents, the pace of closures of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) has picked up and the uprooted are being reintegrated into civilian life, according to the new publication.The Secretary-General also says he is encouraged that the issues relating to rebel commander Alfredo Reinado, who was target of investigations by the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste regarding the 2006 violence, have been overcome.The fugitive leader was killed during the attack on Mr. Ramos-Horta last February.But Mr. Ban cautions that the stability in Timor-Leste “remains fragile,” and the underlying reasons behind the 2006 violence – poverty, urban areas with an influx of migrants, a weak judicial system and nascent security institutions – still need to be tackled.“The Government has made efforts to address these issues, but until these efforts bear fruit there is an ever-present danger that Timor-Leste’s progress towards self-sufficiency could be derailed,” he writes.Local elections scheduled to be held this year will be a test for the country, the report notes.Bolstering security institutions, shifting policing responsibilities to the Timorese Government and building up the judiciary, among other tasks, are “not necessarily about solving particular issues, but about strengthening the institutions of State and improving policy and decision-making processes marked by transparency, accountability and consultation, so that Timor-Leste can continue along the path towards self-sufficiency,” the Secretary-General says.Meanwhile, Mr. Ban’s top envoy to the country is on a two-day visit to Japan, where yesterday he met with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.Special Representative Atul Khare and Mr. Nakasone discussed Japan’s contribution to peacekeeping and peacebuilding in Timor-Leste.The envoy will be in New York to attend the Security Council meeting on Timor-Leste, slated to take place on 19 February. 10 February 2009Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is encouraged by the strides made by the leaders and people of Timor-Leste since violence shook the small Asian nation in 2006, but warned that the root causes of that crisis, including poverty and unemployment, still linger. read more

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