Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao (right) and Finn Reske-Nielsen at the handover ceremony (Photo Thomas Ora )
The United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor Leste Police (UNPOL) has officially ended its mission by handing over policing power to the National Police of Timor Leste (PNTL).
The handover took place during an official ceremony yesterday in the capital Dili.
The national police force was certified by Timor Leste Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao along with Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN’s Mission in Timor Leste, Finn Reske-Nielsen.
The certification “brings to an end operational support from UNPOL, whose main focus over the past 18 months has been capacity building and institutional development support to the PNTL,” a statement from the UN said.
“Security has remained stable since the PNTL resumed policing responsibility in March 2011, with continued low reported crime rates,” the statement continued.
The statement also praised the PNTL for successfully providing security through three rounds of presidential and parliamentary elections this year.
There will now be a significant drawdown of UNPOL personnel during November, with a complete withdrawal of UN peacekeepers expected by the end of December.
There are currently about 1,250 UNPOL personnel in Timor Leste. They were deployed during political upheaval in 2006.
Reske-Nielsen praised UNPOL for its efforts in developing the PNTL and its capacity to maintain law and order in Timor Leste, over the past six years.
“The PNTL has taken big steps forward in that time and has performed well since taking on policing responsibility. The PNTL has also made significant progress in improving discipline and training,” he said.
Timor Leste’s progress towards peace and stability and in strengthening key institutions means the country is ready for the UN mission to leave, he added.
Gusmao thanked the UN as well as the international community for their assistance. “The UNPOL mission in Timor Leste has successfully built capacity and professionalism among PNTL personnel,” he said.
UN no longer needed, says premier