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UN peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste comes to an end

19 May 2005 The United Nations ends one era of its work in Timor-Leste and begins another this week as its support mission officially closes it doors, while a new UN political office gears up to help ensure the country continues its journey toward self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

The mandate of the UN Mission of Support in Timor-Leste (UNMISET) comes to an official end tomorrow. In a ceremony and parade today at the Mission's headquarters in the capital Dili, Timor-Leste President Xanana Gusmão and the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Sukehiro Hasegawa, bid a final farewell to UN peacekeepers, who have been on the ground since 1999.

In his speech during the parade, Mr. Hasegawa said the peacekeepers' departure showed the world's recognition of Timor-Leste as a safe and peaceful country, which was able to assume responsibility for its own security. "Even as this is a sad occasion as we mark the end of an important phase of UN involvement in Timor-Leste, it is, on the other hand, an occasion to celebrate," he said.

The new UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL), a one-year follow-on mission, will remain in the country until 20 May 2006.

The new Office will support the development of critical State institutions by providing up to 45 civilian advisers; support further development of the police through the provision of up to 40 police advisers, and bolster the development of the Border Patrol Unit (BPU) by providing up to 35 additional advisers, 10 of whom may be military advisers. It will also provide training in observance of democratic governance and human rights by providing up to 10 rights officers; and review progress on those fronts.

In other news, the three-member Commission of Experts that the Secretary-General set up to review the prosecution of serious human rights violations committed in East Timor in 1999 arrived last night in Indonesia, and was scheduled to meet today and tomorrow with senior Indonesian officials. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda are among those whom the Commission is expected to meet.

The Secretary-General established the Commission in January to assess the progress made by the judicial processes in Dili and Jakarta, and make recommendations to him regarding to possible future actions.

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