DILI, Timor-Leste, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste ended Monday amid significant progress made in establishing peace and security, a U.N. official said.
"The Timorese people and its leaders have shown courage and unswerving resolve to overcome great challenges. Although there remains much work ahead, this is an historic moment in recognizing the progress already made," Finn Reske-Nielsen, the U.N. secretary-general's acting special representative and head of the U.N. Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, said in a release.
The Asian nation has experienced a long, violent journey toward independence and democracy since it formally separated from Indonesia in 2002, the United Nations said in the release. After an outbreak of deadly fighting in 2006, the U.N. Security Council established the U.N. Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, which replaced earlier peacekeeping and political missions. It also provided interim law enforcement and public security until Timor-Leste's national police could be reformed and resume its role.
This year, Timor-Leste celebrated the 10th anniversary of its independence, and conducted largely peaceful and orderly presidential and parliamentary elections, prompting the mission's expected and definitive withdrawal.
"It has been a privilege to follow Timor-Leste's path out of those difficult times, towards peace, stability and a brighter, safer future," Reske-Nielsen said. "As peacekeepers depart, we look forward to a new phase in this relationship focusing on social and economic development."
Reske-Nielson said a small team would stay into the first months of 2013 to complete any remaining tasks.