After a successful mission, UN set to withdraw observers from Tajikistan

After helping Tajikistan through a difficult transition period that followed years of fighting, the Untied Nations says the time has now come to withdraw its mission from the country.
In his most recent report to the Security Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that the UN has played an important role in Tajikistan through its active involvement in bringing about the peace agreement and in ensuring its implementation, as well as in monitoring the country's first multi-party elections held on 27 February.

"In difficult and often dangerous conditions, the mission has fulfilled its tasks well," Mr. Annan writes, referring to UNMOT, the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan. Noting that the country is now "on the path to national reconciliation and democracy," the Secretary-General says he intends to withdraw the mission when its mandate expires on 15 May.

UNMOT was established in 1994 to assist in monitoring a ceasefire agreement. After three years of UN-sponsored negotiations, its mandate was strengthened to allow it to help promote peace and reconciliation and assist in implementing the peace agreement signed in Moscow in 1997.

In the report, the Secretary-General warns, however, that much remains to be done, particularly in the area of arms reduction. "There are still too many men under arms for a country that is at peace," he said, "and more should be encouraged and helped to return to civilian life."

Mr. Annan says he is currently consulting with Tajik authorities about a possible role for the UN in the period of post-conflict peace-building, after the withdrawal of UNMOT. He also stresses that that the international community should stay engaged and continue to provide assistance because Tajikistan's "move towards a stable democracy has only just begun."