APSN Banner

UN on back foot in row with Timor PM

Agence France Presse - May 20, 2011

Jakarta – The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNMIT) was on the back foot Friday after Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao angrily accused the world body of trampling on his country's sovereignty.

UNMIT was forced to release a statement denying it saw the former guerrilla fighter as an obstacle to democracy after documents critical of Gusmao that were used in a UN briefing were leaked to the local media.

"This document is not an official UNMIT document. It does not represent the official views of UNMIT," the mission said in a statement.

In a speech marking the ninth anniversary of East Timor's independence from Indonesia earlier this week, Gusmao slammed the UN and the East Timorese "experts" on its staff.

He said that from 2000 to 2008 the "international community" had spent almost $8 billion in the tiny half-island state but "we do not see any physical development and even more poverty was created in our country".

The prime minister mocked the UN's record at development and conflict resolution around the world, and suggested UNMIT should focus its efforts on trouble spots like Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.

"My proposal is this: UNMIT and Timorese experts, offer your services to improve Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and give support to democracy in Yemen, Syria and Libya," Gusmao said.

He accused East Timorese nationals who worked with UNMIT of grovelling for money. "I want to say to these Timorese, which have become experts for UNMIT, you do not need to show off; you do not need to grovel for other people's money," the prime minister said.

"This is a sickness, which we call mental colonialism or intellectual colonialism... In our constitution it says: do not alienate our sovereignty, do not sell our sovereignty to other people."

He said all the "big 'experts' in our country" should "work together with President (Barack) Obama to look to resolve the $14.5 trillion dollar American debt, and the big fraud which the financial institutions and banks displayed in 2009 that damaged the whole world".

"America and Europe need these Timorese experts and internationals, to correct the standards which they so dearly defend," he said.

"And the world needs reform that is indeed big. Big organisations in the world need reforms which are bold and clear, in order to clean the dirt from within, so that they can gain experience to clean other people's backyards. The UN itself needs this big reform."