In historic first East Timorese defence force takes over security from UN

More than 500 people turned out at the battalion’s base in Lospalos for a ceremony that included lowering the UN flag and raising East Timor’s national flag to symbolize the transfer of power. East Timor Defence Force (FALINTIL-FDTL) Commander Taur Matan Ruak termed the handover “an historic moment” and said the defence force now needed to win and consolidate the support of East Timor’s people. For his part, Kamalesh Sharma, the chief of the UN Mission of Support (UNMISET), told the audience the handover of responsibility would allow East Timor’s Government to focus on areas other than external security. “The nation will now be able to devote itself whole-heartedly to the task of meeting the developmental and social aspirations of its citizens, confident in the security provided by its own forces,” Mr. Sharma said. “The men and women standing before me today will go a long way to ensuring that fear never returns to this country.” After the exchange of flags, the 96-member company from Thailand that had been based in the area conducted a ceremonial march followed by a Thai kickboxing display. The FALINTIL-FDTL battalion then carried out a drill display, which was followed by a mock military manoeuvre.

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