East Timor independence in sight still much work to do Security Council

The United Nations must remain “fully engaged in the early difficult days after the Organization’s flag comes down,” Sergio Vieira de Mello said in his statement to the Council, which held a daylong open meeting on the situation in East Timor.In particular, Mr. Vieira de Mello noted that the mission still needed to consolidate a secure and stable environment and to steer East Timor through successful, peaceful elections. UNTAET also had to set the basis for managing public finances and making policy and to establish the framework for an effective government administration.The head of the UN mission also addressed the plan, outlined in Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s recent report on East Timor, to scale down the UN military presence if stable conditions continue. By October, Mr. Vieira de Mello said, the mission will present plans for a smaller mission, which should be funded from assessed contributions.The interface between the United Nations and East Timor should not be allowed to continue for longer than was absolutely necessary to meet the benchmarks for East Timor’s independence, Mr. Vieira de Mello said. However, “we have been directed to do a job and that job is not yet complete. To equate the political transition, which is now so close to completion, with the establishment of an effective administration for East Timor, is quite simply wrong,” he said.As for the 30 August elections for a Constituent Assembly, Mr. Vieira de Mello stressed that the UN and East Timor’s leadership have made it “absolutely clear” that politically motivated violence would not be tolerated. To reinforce this point, he said, 14 of the 16 political parties have signed a unity pact “to demonstrate unequivocally their commitment to peaceful, non-violent and mature democratic competition.”East Timor’s Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs, José Ramos-Horta also addressed the Council during its meeting, and more than 20 countries took the floor to lend their support to the UN’s efforts in East Timor. Several speakers described the situation in the territory as tentative and echoed Mr. Vieira de Mello’s call for a “cautious rightsizing” of the international presence.

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