East Timor: Security Sector Relapse?

East Timor: Security Sector Relapse?

DILI, Timor-Leste -- Security sector reform (SSR) is a vital part of state-building, especially in Timor-Leste, a country that came close to civil war in 2006. Significantly, though, few Timorese political leaders interviewed about the issue wanted to speak about one of the highest priorities for the U.N. Mission in Timor-Leste: completing -- and, by extension, to some degree implementing -- a comprehensive security sector review.

Neither the review nor the overall role of the U.N. in SSR was raised in any of World Politics Review's meetings with politicians in Timor-Leste. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Dili-based foreign diplomat told WPR, "The Timorese will do SSR the Timorese way."

President Jose Ramos-Horta deflected the issue in a recent interview, focusing instead on the future of the army and police, in light of the imminent departure of resistance-era leaders due to retirement in the coming 2-3 years. Former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told WPR that SSR proposals to date "are not really a reform," as what is proposed does not "have Timorese ownership."

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