DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> UN to stay in E Timor for at least another month. 11/05/2006. ABC News Online

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UN to stay in E Timor for at least another month

The United Nations (UN) has been asked to extend its mission in East Timor, initially by one month, following a deadly riot, the mission said.

"The as-of-yet unconfirmed, but current proposal is for a continuation of UNOTILs current mandate for one month," said a statement from the UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL).

The mission is due to end on May 19.

The UN has helped prop up East Timor since its people voted in 1999 to split from Indonesia.

The tiny nation of about one million became independent in 2002.

The East Timorese capital Dili was rocked by a riot on April 28 that saw at least five people killed and more than 100 buildings destroyed or damaged, while more than 20,000 people fled the capital in fear afterwards.

It began with a rally in support of nearly 600 soldiers who were sacked when they deserted their barracks complaining of ethnic discrimination.

Sukehiro Hasegawa, special representative of the UN secretary-general, made the request for the extension to the Security Council on May 5.

The UNOTIL statement quoted Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who also briefed the council, as saying the riot was "a wake-up call to us, the East Timorese leadership, as well as to the international community, that we must not take for granted the apparent peace and tranquillity in the country."

Mr Hasegawa praised the progress East Timor has made in recent years.

But he said "state institutions are increasingly challenged to address the grievances of various groups and the rising expectations of the people, as well as the potential risks associated with the conduct of the first post-independence presidential and parliamentary elections."

East Timor is due to hold the elections in 2007.

The UN mission in East Timor once numbered some 11,000 troops and civilians but has been scaled back to 130 administrators, police and military advisers.


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