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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 14:33 GMT
E Timor 'risks upsurge in unrest'
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Australian troops make up the bulk of East Timor's international force
East Timor is at risk from an upsurge in civil unrest unless it carries out reforms of its police and military, a US-based think-tank has warned.

The International Crisis Group says the country needs to decide whether the prime minister or president has control of the security forces.

East Timor was plunged into mayhem two years ago when police and army units fought pitched battles.

Foreign troops were brought in to restore order after 37 people died.

A further 150,000 people were driven from their homes during the violence.

Australia sent a force of 1,000 troops to help to quell the unrest, and about 1,500 UN police were also deployed.

International troops remain in East Timor, providing basic security.

'Politicised and volatile'

East Timor has a violent recent history - having been invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and subjected to a brutal occupation.

It gained independence in 1999, but analysts believe at least 100,000 people died under Indonesian rule - either in conflict or from preventable illnesses.

There have been periodic outbreaks of violence ever since, and the think-tank said there was still no national consensus about security needs, or the kind of forces required to meet them.

"Lines of authority between the army, which has not found a satisfactory post-independence role, and police are blurred," the think-tank said in a statement.

"Without non-partisan commitment to reform, the security forces are likely to remain politicised and volatile."

While international troops remain there, the organisation believes the government has a chance to carry out proper reforms of the security forces.

East Timor 'must forgive Suharto'
17 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
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14 Dec 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Homes burnt in E Timor violence
10 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: East Timor
30 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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