August 27, 2006

East Timor expects U.N. mission

DILI (Reuters) - East Timor's Prime Minister, Jose
Ramos-Horta, said on Sunday he expected a new U.N. mission to
arrive in a month, a move aimed at shoring up security in the
fledgling nation torn by violence three months ago.

The United Nations established the mission, comprising
1,608 police, on Friday despite a dispute over whether
Australian-led international troops already in East Timor
should remain independent or be part of a U.N. force.

"I think within one month the international force will
arrive in Timor Leste ... All countries accept this upcoming
international force because the UN has decided. So there is no
single country that rejects the decision," Ramos Horta told
reporters. Timor Leste is the official name for East Timor.

The new United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste
(UNMIT) will be in place for at least six months and will
include up to 35 military liaison officers after the U.N.
Security Council unanimously approved a Japanese-drafted

International troops were sent to East Timor to restore
order after a wave of violence three months ago.

The violence began after then-prime minister Mari Alkatiri
dismissed 600 soldiers in an army of 1,400 when they protested
over suspected discrimination against soldiers from the west of
the country.

Australia has about 1,500 troops and 200 police in the
existing force of some 2,300, which includes contingents from
Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal.

The establishment of the new force did not settle the
dispute over whether those troops should be part of the U.N.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is to review arrangements
by October 25, thereby leaving the multinational force in place
until at least then, Friday's resolution says.

A former Portuguese colony, East Timor was occupied by
Indonesia in 1975. It became independent in 2002 after being
run by the United Nations for two-and-half years following a
referendum in August 1999 that was marred by widespread

Calm has largely returned to the country after a wave of
violence, arson and looting from April to June killed at least
20 people and prompted the government to invite international
forces to restore order. Most of the chaos occurred in and
around Dili.

But sporadic violence continues involving gangs who fight
one another with stones and homemade weapons.