At midnight on 19 May, Taur Matan Ruak was sworn in as the new President of Timor-Leste. From that early morning hour until late into the evening of 20 May, Timorese across the country celebrated the peaceful transfer of power during festivities that also marked the 10th Anniversary of the Restoration of Independence. Then on 21 May, Under-Secretary-General Vijay Nambiar and I oversaw the first handover of United Nation’s equipment to the Government of Timor-Leste. (Click here for more information on the asset transfer.) Throughout the weekend, the celebrations across the country took place in an atmosphere of peace and stability.
Taken together these events represent another milestone for Timor-Leste, and another step towards UNMIT’s planned closure at the end of 2012.
This momentous weekend was also a clear sign of the country’s progress toward peace and stability through the hard work and dedication of every segment of Timorese society. Throughout both rounds of the Presidential election, candidates and elected leaders spoke openly of the importance of peaceful dialogue. The electoral management bodies effectively implemented every facet of the electoral process. The Timorese National Police maintained order and security throughout the election period. Of paramount importance, the peaceful and orderly manner in which the people exercised their right to vote is yet another sign of their commitment to stability and national unity.
The weekend was also a fitting culmination to my leadership of UNMIT. When I took up my position with UNMIT in January 2010, my hope and aspiration was for the UN to build on its already constructive and open relationship with the Timorese public and their institutions and leaders, as well as with our other partners, allowing us to continue to tackle together the long-term challenges that come in the aftermath of conflict. The recent presidential elections are further proof of the strides that Timor-Leste has and continues to make.
I am sorry to be leaving this beautiful country. But this is a personal regret only, as I know that I leave UNMIT in the capable hands of Timor-Leste’s long-time friend Finn Reske-Nielsen. I have very much enjoyed working with you all, and wish you all the best for the future. On 11 June, I began my new role as Under-Secretary-General for the UN’s Department of Field Support which services all peacekeeping and political missions. I am deeply honoured to have this responsibility bestowed upon me by the Secretary-General and, while my responsibilities are now global, I will continue to do what I can to help Timor-Leste on its path forward.