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.
A year after the near-fatal shooting of President José Ramos-Horta, security in Timor-Leste is strikingly improved.
The shooting of President José Ramos-Horta in February 2008 underscored the urgency of addressing sources of conflict and violence in Timor-Leste.
Four years after Timor-Leste gained independence, its police and army were fighting each other in the streets of Dili.
Timor-Leste has just elected a new president and will hold parliamentary elections on 30 June 2007.