UN envoy in Timor-Leste stresses the need to resolve differences at the ballot box

2 October 2006 – Stressing the need to restore stability and peace in Timor-Leste following the deadly violence that erupted earlier this year, the United Nations envoy in the tiny nation said today that all Timorese should resolve their differences at the ballot box and not through conflict.

In his first major speech as Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Finn Reske-Nielsen also reaffirmed the commitment of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) to promoting justice in the tiny South East Asian nation as well as to next year’s planned parliamentary and presidential elections.

“The key focus of the Mission is to assist this country in returning to stability and promoting justice and peace. It is therefore part of the core mandate of the Mission to help facilitate the dialogue amongst the leaders that will lead to national reconciliation,” he told a press conference in the capital Dili.

“This is not going to be an easy task, but we have a number of tools available to us to help us with this. The Good Office’s role of the United Nations will be critical to our success in the coming months… Fundamentally we have to convey to the people of this country that conflict and other differences need to be fought at the ballot box and nowhere else.”

Mr. Reske-Nielsen said that once up to full strength the Mission will be made up of over 3,000 staff including civilian and uniform personnel. He also emphasized the important role of UN police in rehabilitating the local force, which disintegrated following the violence in April and May that involved factional fighting with the military and led to the deaths of at least 37 people and forced around 155,000 to flee their homes.

UNMIT is also committed, in cooperation with other partners, to strengthening the integrity of the legal system, he said, adding that the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into this year’s violence –– expected to be presented sometime this month –– will be “a very important step in the direction of ensuring that there is justice for all.”

Mr. Reske-Nielsen took up his post as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General at the beginning of last month but is currently the Acting Special Representative following the departure of Sukehiro Hasegawa at the end of September.

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