NZ to increase presence in East Timor

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

"New Zealand is planning to increase the number of both Police and NZDF personnel in East Timor in the post-ballot phase of the UN operation there," Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Don McKinnon, announced today.

"Following the 30 August ballot, there will be a transition period of some months before the Indonesian Parliament can give constitutional effect to the outcome of the ballot. During this period, we are looking at doubling the number of NZDF military liaison officers from 5 to 10, and increasing the number of civilian police officers from 10 to 15."

"Indonesia will still be responsible for security in this period. A stronger and enlarged UN presence will help provide reassurance and advice concerning security in the transition period, whatever the ballot outcome."

Mr McKinnon explained the UN plan was to wind down the electoral component after the ballot, but increase the total civilian police number in East Timor to 460, including a police training component, and for the military liaison officers to be increased from the present 50 to 300.

"We are in the process of identifying Police volunteers and NZDF personnel for this next phase. The 10 police officers currently in East Timor are due to return to New Zealand by 7 September because of our heavy commitments during the APEC meetings next month. Their replacements should be in place later in September. The 5 NZDF liaison officers already in East Timor will stay on and will be joined byan equal number."

Mr McKinnon said he was encouraged by recent developments in East Timor such as the successful registration of voters.

"There are big hurdles still ahead, particularly that of persuading all parties to accept the ballot result without resort to violence. Major efforts have to go into reconciliation and disarmament."

"Indonesia will also have to redouble its efforts to ensure security and calm in the post-ballot period. The role of the Indonesian Armed Forces, or TNI, will be crucial and will be closely watched by the international community.