PM and Minister of Defence and Security Xanana Gusmão scheduled to visit Singapore 3-5 June and Philippines 5-9 June to strengthen country’s bid for ASEAN membership.
Although swelling oil and gas revenues have bought Timor-Leste peace, political empowerment, security reforms and fiscal caution are needed to ensure stability can outlast the boom.
Timor-Leste’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections will be an important step in consolidating the relative stability the country has enjoyed since recovering from the 2006 crisis, but a number of security risks deserve continued attention.
The size of the policing contingent of the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) should be sharply reduced to prepare for the peace operation’s eventual end and encourage the country to assume full responsibility for ensuring its own security and future stability.
Measures to resolve land disputes in Timor-Leste must go beyond a draft law on land titling if they are to comprehensively reduce the risks posed, otherwise the law could bring more problems than solutions.
The security threat at Indonesia and Timor-Leste’s shared border has decreased sharply since the latter’s 2002 independence, but failure to finalise agreement on the border and normalise cross-border traffic could allow limited but long-standing local disputes to escalate.
The United Nations should hand over formal control of the Timor-Leste police as soon as possible.
Civil-Military Affairs Conference, Queanbeyan, Australia.
Originally published in The Jakarta Post