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East Timor News Digest 12 - May 5-18, 2003

One year after independence

Security & boarder issues Timor Gap Government & politics Human rights/law International relations Local media monitoring

 One year after independence

One year after independence Timor finds it tough going

Associated Press - May 14, 2003

Dili -- As Indonesia marks five years as a democracy, its former territory of East Timor is celebrating its own landmark: one year as an independent nation.

But persistent poverty, anger at the slow pace of nation building and the struggle to come to terms with a brutal past are likely to overshadow any celebration next Tuesday.

"Life is better than it was under Indonesian rule, but just a little," said Moises da Conseciao, who spends his days hawking spicy barbecue chicken and corn-on-the-cob on the seafront of the capital, Dili. "You try living on a couple of dollars a day," laments the 44-year-old father of two, fanning the coals on his brazier.

On May 20, 2002, the UN, which had administered the territory since it voted overwhelmingly for independence two years earlier, handed over governance to the East Timorese.

Jubilation after more than four centuries of Portuguese colonial rule and 24 years of ruthless occupation by Indonesia didn't last long.

The new government faced daunting challenges: unemployment of 80%, an infrastructure sacked by retreating Indonesian troops, the need to balance war crimes prosecution with national reconciliation, and the first year has been rough. Riots in January destroyed parts of the capital, including the prime minister's residence, and gangs linked to pro-Indonesia militias continue to kill and pillage.

These days, East Timor's expatriate community and a tiny local elite enjoy Dili's cafes and bars, but life for most of the country's 800,000 people remains as hard as ever. "The poor are not benefiting from independence. Only the rich are," said Maria Verago, who lives in the capital.

The social gap has been cited as a cause for the January riots. Former guerillas who complain they cannot get jobs were also blamed for the unrest. "The government cannot offer anything to solve the problems," said opposition politician Fernando Lasama de Araujo. "They know how to make promises to the people, but since independence they have not satisfied anyone."

President Xanana Gusmao has tried to ensure good relations with the country's giant neighbor and former occupier by not aggressively supporting calls for the prosecution of Indonesian officers.

Indonesian troops and their militia proxies destroyed much of the territory and killed up to 2,000 people before and after a UN- sponsored independence referendum in 1999.

In Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, charges were filed against 18 senior security officials over the bloodshed. The tribunal so far has acquitted 11 and convicted five, who got sentences from three to 10 years, leading some local and foreign rights groups to call the process a sham.

Prosecutors in Dili are pursuing their own war crimes trials, indicting nearly 250 people, including the former chief of the Indonesian military, Gen. Wiranto. Thirty people, mostly former militiamen, have been convicted.

East Timor is still dependent on foreign aid, but the country hopes royalties from a multibillion-dollar natural gas field under the Timor Sea will be enough to bring it economic independence when the project comes on line next year. Government spokesman Gregorio de Sousa acknowledged there is much to do. "We cannot perform miracles in a year," he said.

 Security & boarder issues

Trouble in Timor

The Bulletin (Australia) - May 14, 2003

John Martinkus -- General Taur Matan Ruak, the former guerilla leader who now heads East Timor's defence forces, has called on residents of the world's newest nation to ignore rumours that the first anniversary of independence on May 20 would be marked by militia attacks.

Ruak is one of the few East Timorese leaders to acknowledge the continued threat from former militia operating inside the country. But it has resulted in the United Nations mission in East Timor (UNMISET) extending its mandate until late 2004. It was Ruak who insisted that East Timorese troops be deployed following militia attacks in the mountain town of Atsabe in January. When his troops detained 130 villagers during their sweep, human rights groups in Dili were quick to denounce them for acting outside the new constitution.

The UN peacekeeping force declined to blame the attacks on former militia aligned with Indonesia and simply referred to them as "unlawful elements" while implying that the attacks were linked to local corruption.

But in late February when gunmen attacked a minibus in the border region near Atabae -- wounding five people and killing one -- the peacekeepers responded with a huge operation. Three days later, Fijian troops exchanged fire with the militia after surprising them in their camp. The Fijians killed one and wounded two and found 1000 rounds of ammunition, a grenade and an Indonesian- issue automatic weapon. They reported that the group's equipment, the position of their camp and their ability to withdraw under fire pointed to extensive military training. Documents found at the camp and interviews with detainees indicated they were ex- militia living across the border in Indonesia. If evidence was needed that a destabilisation campaign was being conducted it was finally reported by the peacekeepers in April and used to extend the UN mandate.

When Dili erupted into rioting on December 4 after the deaths of two students, there were similar accusations that it was the work of Indonesian provocateurs. UNMISET refused to point the finger of responsibility and the East Timorese government has still not published its report into the incident. This has led to speculation that members of the government may have been behind the rioting, contributing to the growing sense of unease. The riots rocked East Timor's already shaky economy by scaring away foreign investors and tourists, particularly Australians. And suspicions that Indonesian agents were behind the rioting saw the Fretilin government pass a new law allowing the deportation of any foreigners engaged in political activity.

The law has been denounced by foreign NGOs as an attempt to silence government critics. Fretilin supporters say it is aimed at controlling what had been an unrestricted flow of Indonesian citizens across the border. The government is already under fire for its economic mismanagement. "Ministers are not qualified, the government does not support investment, power is too centralised and decisions are made personally by the prime minister with no consultation," says Nelson Belo, a 28-year-old employee of the NGO, Judicial System Monitoring Program.

The autocratic style of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has alienated many of the younger generation of Indonesian-educated students who also resent the Portuguese-speaking leadership. With unemployment rife, dissatisfaction among the youth, who fought so hard for independence, is growing rapidly. And with the Timor Gap gas revenues not due until mid 2005 the threats to East Timor, both internally and externally, have only got worse.

 Timor Gap

A dangerous windfall

Newsweek - May 12, 2003

Joe Cochrane -- When Indonesia and Australia agreed in 1989 to jointly exploit East Timor's offshore oil and gas fields, the countries' foreign ministers sealed the pact by sipping champagne in a private jet high above the Timor Sea.

Ten years later, after throwing off the yoke of Indonesian rule, East Timor has claimed the deep-sea deposits for itself and is preparing to cash in on its natural resources. But, strangely, no one is breaking out the bubbly. "While oil and gas revenues can be a blessing, we are conscious that our public administration, our Treasury and other branches of government are very weak," says Jose Ramos-Horta, the country's foreign minister. "This can lead to waste, mismanagement and corruption."

Not that East Timor doesn't have a lot to be happy about as the one-year anniversary of its independence approaches later this month. War and starvation are slowly becoming distant memories, nation-building has begun in earnest and the East Timorese -- not their Portuguese, Japanese or Indonesian colonizers -- are finally calling the shots. Just last month East Timor and Australia inked the final terms of their joint treaty, with 90 percent of the oil revenues headed to the tiny nation. Unlike other strife-torn countries, this Southeast Asian outpost can write its financial ticket by wisely spending its oil and gas revenues, estimated to be $6 billion during the next 25 years.

But therein lies the danger: a sudden windfall of cash from the black stuff could just as easily send the region's poorest state down the path of nations like Nigeria or Indonesia, whose corruption is a testament to the temptations of oil economies. "The institutions are not there -- and the openness and transparency are not there -- to make sure this money's going to be spent well," warns one Western political analyst in Dili. "There are no checks and balances against large-scale corruption."

In fact, many experts think corruption has already gotten worse in the last year. "There are increasing anecdotal reports ... of low-level corruption that is making it difficult for businesses to do business," says Elisabeth Huybens, the World Bank's country manager in East Timor.

So far the tales of graft are the typical fare: civil servants demanding bribes for permits, influence peddling by midlevel bureaucrats and alleged kickbacks for handing out state contracts. There is no evidence that the tentacles of corruption have reached the highest levels of government, but given that the country's current national budget is less than $80 million, opportunities for officials to line their pockets are scarce.

That could change when East Timor goes from receiving about $28 million a year from its oil and gas fields, called the Timor Gap, to $100 million in the next three years as more fields come on- line.

While independence heroes like President Jose (Xanana) Gusmco and Ramos-Horta, a Nobel laureate, are considered beyond reproach, average Timorese view their fledgling bureaucracy with growing suspicion. Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and a small clique of other cabinet members are commonly referred to as the "Mozambique mafia" -- a jab at their years spent as political refugees in the African nation during Indonesia's occupation. Critics complain that members of the group, which comes from the ruling Fretilin Party, are making major policy decisions behind closed doors and are being feted abroad as VIPs. "If they are eating sweet potatoes, we should all be," one Timorese woman recently told researchers conducting a democracy survey. "They have dollars and good food, while the ordinary people are ignored." Ramos-Horta is quick to defend his colleagues: "They are very hardworking and competent leaders. The prime minister is totally unforgiving when it comes to corruption."

For East Timor's sake, it better stay that way. The international community has invested a lot of political capital -- not to mention billions of dollars -- in East Timor's future, and the tiny country remains the poster child for nation-building. But many of the fundamentals for the country's good governance remain unfulfilled.

All agree that the court system remains in shambles, with most judges and prosecutors having never previously set foot in a courtroom. Nor has the Parliament created an ombudsman's office to protect the Treasury from being cleaned out. International organizations and NGOs are working frantically with Dili to create these checks and balances, and the World Bank's Huybens admits that donors are "concerned." "If we are not serious," says Ramos-Horta, "we will lose credibility and international assistance." And no one will be raising their glass to East Timor.

 Government & politics

Alkatiri rejects criticism of his government

Radio Australia - May 16, 2003

As popular discontent continues to fester over unmet economic expectations in East Timor, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has rejected criticism that his Fretilin government is too centralised and intolerant of opposing views. At the same time, he's also taken a swipe at Canberra, accusing some of wanting to make the world's newest nation a mere extension of Australia. His comments come as the government steps up moves to convince those outside the capital that it hasn't lost contact with its grassroots.


Alkatiri: People often don't understand the situation in Timor, we won the election, and we are very tolerant and excessively tolerant in this country. With the majority we have in the parliament we can do everything we want. We are open, we are trying to work together with the people, with everybody. What these people in Australia most are trying to have in East Timor is a country completely an extension of Australia. I hope, I think that I hope that it's not the policy of the government. But there are some people trying to do it.

Keady: Yesterday a man got up in the open government and he said the problem was that he felt there was a schism, the Prime Minister comes with his ideas, the President will come with his ideas. There is a concern that there might be a schism between the President and the Prime Minister. Do you believe that that will work against the government?

Alkatiri: I don't think so, I think that the institutions in Timor L'este is improving their quality of working and governments, parliaments and presidents of the republic are now trying to understand a bit better the constitution, and once we understand the constitution, we really can know clearly what our competencies are and there's no problem. My relationship with the President now is the best and I do believe that the misunderstanding belongs to the past.

Keady: The international community has criticised this government for being slow on investment, for being obstructionist regarding the need to get this country moving. Are you limiting the amount of investment, western investment in this country?

Alkatiri: Not at all, this is a country that is starting from scratch. It means that we need before opening the doors for the investments, we need to create a condition the whole environments, for us and for the investors to know clearly what is our rights and their rights are, what our obligations and their obligations are. This is the reason why the investment law by itself means nothing. We are working now very hard on a package starting from the company laws, investment law, insurance law, bankruptcy law, the whole package will create a good environment for the investors, we need investors.

Keady: This is my last question, how would you describe your relationship with the financial institutions? As I understand it there has been pressure on the government to take out a loan, the government has refused to do that. Do you believe the relationship with those financial institutions is a strong one?

Alkatiri: Yes, the relationship particularly with World Bank and IMF are very good, and in relation to loans, I would like to make it clear that I'm not ideologically against loans. What I'm looking for is to improve the capacity of, to strengthen first the institution and improve the capacity of the civil servants and above all the management capacity of the civil servants. Of course in two, three, four, five years from now if we need to embark onto loans, concessional loans, we will do it. But when we feel that we are capable of managing the loans.

 Human rights/law

Alkatiri slams UN on war criminals

Asia Times - May 15, 2003

Jill Jolliffe, Dili -- The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, which celebrates one year of independence next Tuesday, has said he is determined to bring to justice Indonesian officers who committed war crimes in the territory.

In an exclusive interview with Asia Times Online, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri also accused the United Nations of trying to wash its hands of human-rights prosecutions. "Crimes against humanity must be judged ... and the international community has primary responsibility," the prime minister said, adding: "We cannot just ignore crimes against humanity, which are the gravest of crimes, yet take petty thieves to court. It would be a travesty of justice."

His statements clarified the East Timorese government's position after a row in February over the indictment of former Indonesian defense chief General Wiranto by prosecutors from Dili's Serious Crimes Unit (SCU). He was accused of various counts of murder, deportation and persecution as crimes against humanity, with six other senior military officers and the former governor of East Timor.

The charges arose from the violence unleashed by East Timorese militia units and coordinated by the Indonesian army during the 1999 referendum on independence. An estimated 1,500 people were killed and entire villages torched, with about 250,000 people deported to West Timor.

When the indictments were announced, Wiranto stated that the SCU, which was set up by UN Security Council Resolution 1272 of 1999 and is staffed by UN personnel, was "not a representative of the UN for international tribunal affairs". He claimed it had no authority outside East Timor, a view echoed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda.

Human-rights advocates in Dili were shocked when Kamalesh Sharma, the UN secretary general's representative, issued a statement that appeared to back this view. It said: "While indictments are prepared by international staff, they are issued under the legal authority of the Timorese prosecutor general. The United Nations does not have any legal authority to issue indictments."

Alkatiri, who is a former law lecturer, has now lashed out at this stand, saying: "We cannot accept this ... I don't know what the UN's game is, but it should assume responsibility."

He added that Sharma and other senior UN officials had discussed the charges with him shortly before they were announced. He said the SCU had been established by the Security Council and remains accountable to it, even though since independence last May the unit has also been answerable to the East Timorese government.

The issue was further complicated by separate visits to Jakarta soon after by East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao and Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta. Both leaders stated there that the East Timorese government did not intend to press the prosecutions, because good relations with Indonesia were overriding.

Prime Minister Alkatiri said in the interview that the statements did not represent his government's policy, but stressed that President Gusmao -- who does not have executive powers -- is entitled to a personal opinion.

He dealt tactfully with his foreign minister's statements. "I'm the prime minister," he said, "and I'm not contradicting him, but I think what he meant to say was that it's not the government that's accusing the generals, but the court, which is independent."

He also refused to dwell specifically on the case of General Wiranto. "I'm not going to mention names," he said, "... but all crimes must be judged. It happened in Bosnia and in all other such cases ... This is not to say we're persecuting Indonesian generals or officers."

Alkatiri said his newly independent government places the highest store on its relationship with Indonesia, as a regime that broke with the Suharto dictatorship, and that the prosecutions were "in its own interest".

Since it began work in 1999, the SCU has obtained arrest warrants for 247 individuals accused of human-rights violations, of whom 169 remain at large in Indonesia. Although the Indonesian government promised to cooperate with UN prosecutors, President Megawati Sukarnoputri's government has refused to hand over suspects for trial in Dili.

Under UN resolutions, Jakarta can also try perpetrators before its Ad Hoc Tribunal on Timor, but human-rights observers see it as having little credibility. It has freed most Indonesian officers who have appeared before it and given light sentences to others.

East Timor became a member of the international police organization Interpol last October, and has formally requested additional arrest warrants from it for accused Indonesian officers.

Government prosecutor Longuinhos Monteiro said 11 warrant requests are being processed by Interpol, involving three middle-ranking Indonesian officers and eight Timorese-born members of the Indonesian army. If granted, the accused men will be declared fugitives from international justice and police forces belonging to Interpol can arrest them if they travel outside Indonesia.

An informed source in Dili said that Siri Frigaard, who headed the SCU at the time, argued with Sharma's office over the Wiranto indictment. With Monteiro, she refused a request to take the indictment off UN letterhead.

Frigaard quit her post last month to return to Norway as deputy head of the National Crime Investigation and Intelligence Agency, after supervising an impressive range of indictments against perpetrators of some of the worst massacres of 1999.

Since her departure, Monteiro has complained of continuing attempts by the UN to put a brake on prosecutions. "I was taught by international lawyers and academics on the importance of the separation of powers. Those same people are now trying to politically influence prosecutions, as the UN did in the Wiranto indictment," he said.

Foreign political activists could be deported

Green Left Weekly - May 7, 2003

Oscar Jukes, Darwin -- East Timor's parliament is discussing a new law that would allow the interior ministry to deport any foreigner who engages in political activity or even attends a political meeting or demonstration.

The proposed law was approved by East Timor's Council of Ministers on February 5, and is currently being discussed in the Legislative Assembly, which has already approved its first three sections.

In chapter 2, section E of article 11 states: "It is forbidden for the foreigner to engage in activities of a political nature or involve, directly or indirectly in affairs of the state." Charles Scheiner, a US citizen and long-time Timor solidarity activist who has been living and working in Dili since 2001, states in a letter to East Timor's government and parliament: "I write as a disillusioned friend, who is dismayed by what this legislation indicates about the future of East Timor. If foreigners are not allowed to peacefully express their views on civic issues, whose rights will be next to go? Is the freedom that so many East Timorese sacrificed so much for, over so many years to be discarded so readily? "If we come because we believe in your nation and your people and we come because we think our support for East Timor's unfinished struggle for self determination is still valuable and appreciated, because we believe all people should enjoy human rights, justice and peace, are we not welcome?' Scheiner also touched on the recent Timor oil issue arguing that "if we tell Australia to respect East Timor's sovereignty and stop stealing East Timor's natural resources, are we not welcome?" These concerns are shared by others. "As international solidarity activists, we must be concerned about the proposed laws, given that international solidarity has been crucial in the history of East Timor's struggle for independence", said Ralf Scharmann, a spokesperson for the Darwin-based ASIET (Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor).

"Consecutive Australian governments have cheated the East Timorese people on the issue of maritime boundaries, oil and gas resources over and again", said Scharmann, concerned that the proposed immigration law is aimed at stopping protests against the Australian government by Australians in East Timor. "It is only right and necessary for Australians to oppose this behaviour. The proposed laws in East Timor will be counter- productive to the interests of the East Timorese people."

[Oscar Jukes is a member of ASIET.]

 International relations

Aid increases but cuts to help to East Timor'

Australian Associated Press - May 13, 2003

Canberra -- Aid funding will increase but assistance for East Timor will be slashed under the Budget released tonight. In a sign of the government's continuing use of aid to help fight terrorism, much of the increase has been tied to the efforts of neighbouring countries to improve their governance and policing systems. The total aid budget will increase $79 million to $1.8 billion, or about 0.25 per cent of GDP.

Aid to Indonesia will increase $30 million to $152 million, while a special $7.5 million Peace and Security Fund in the Pacific has been created to assist post-conflict countries such as the Solomon Islands. Aid for the Solomons will increase $2 million to $37.4 million, while Tonga will receive an extra $400,000. But to keep a lid on the aid budget, funding to some countries has been slashed.

The biggest losers will be East Timor, with its allocation cut 24.1 per cent to $42.5 million, while aid to Middle East countries will fall to $37.8 million from $88.7 million. But about $100 million will be spent on reconstruction efforts in war ravaged Iraq. Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said much of the Asia-Pacific region, the biggest targets for Australian aid, faced major challenges to their stability and security.

"The Australian aid program will continue to place a high priority on promoting develping in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on good governance and ehancing partner governments' capacity to promote peace and manage non-military threats to security," he said in a statement.

Extra money will go into counter-terrorism programs, including those aimed at cyber-terrorism, developed by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group. Almost $2 million will be spent to maintain Australia's diplomatic presence in Nauru to oversee the government's Pacific solution program.

The government will put $16.5 million into the Global Conservation Trust which aims to convserve the genetics of agricultural plants.

 Local media monitoring

East Timor local media monitoring

UNMISET - May 5-16, 2003

Suara Timor Lorsae reported that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr Jose Ramos Horta held a press conference yesterday at Government Palace regarding his visit to the United States. In a press briefing Mr Horta explained that his visit to the United States had been successful. He met with the Secretary of State, Mr Collin Powel and a number of Congress members. During the meeting with Mr Powel, Mr Horta asked the United States for continuing support for his new and poor nation. According to Mr Horta the Secretary of State, Mr Powel listened sympathetically and said he will take Mr Ramos Hosta comments to the Congress for review. Actually the US Government has signaled a reduction in aid to Timor-Leste by 40%. The current level of finance assistance is $25 million.

The United Nations Peace Keeping Forces and the Indonesian Armed Forces have met in Atambua to discuss the land border between West Timor-Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The team will examine official documents such as the 1904 Treaty between Portugal and Dutch, the Indonesian map of 1992/93 and the Portuguese map of 1936/38 as reference to establish an agreed border.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri urged civil servants to do the best for their country. In a meeting with all public servants last Friday Mr Alkatiri said "what have you done for your country?". The Prime Minister also said that the Government does not demand anything except self discipline in the conduct of their duties.

The General Manager of the Micro Finance Institution of East Timor, Sergio M. Espirito Santo, told STL at his office at Colmera that during one year's operation, they had disbursed US$219,173.37 for small businesses channelled through their three branches in Dili, Ermera and Maliana.

In the front page, the Timor Post reported the same story as described in the STL about Dr Ramos Horta's visit to the United States.

Costa, and the Executive Director of the East Timor Study Group, Dr Joao M. Saldanha, have said that the economy of Timor-Leste will benefit from the new trading relationship as part of the African Carribean and Pacific Group of nations.

The FDTL Commander Mr Taur Matan Ruak said that within a year, the FDTL has made progress in terms of capacity building. According to Mr. Ruak the institution's policy underlined the quality of the soldiers not its quantity.

In response to the protest letter from the CPD-RDTL Secretary, Mr Ivo de Jesus Sequeira, the General Coordinator of the CAAC-CAAV Commission, Mr Duarte Viana, said that the time limit which has been given for the registration of the veterans was not designed to offend anybody. He said it was a reminder to all former combatants to register and fill out the form provided. He said if the elegible people do not register in time they can not blame the Commission.

Timor Telecom has announced that they will be providing free national calls on mobile phones and landlines from midnight on May 19 until midnight on May 20. This to celebrate the first anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

May 15, 2003

Suara Timor Lorosae reported that the Speaker of the National Parliament, Mr. Lu-Olo said "the only way to overcome militia's infiltration into Timor-Leste is to enhance the cooperation and a close relationship with Indonesia". Mr. Lu-Olo met with President Xanana Gusmao at Palacio das Cinzas yesterday as part of regular meeting schedule. Mr. Lu-Olo asked the Government to enhance mutual cooperation with Indonesia to resolve two major problems that Timor-Leste is facing: the militia's infiltration and the refugees in West Timor.

Two vibrant Australians, Luke and Dan Gosling are taking part in the commemorations for the Independence Day. Their project is a 700 km awareness and fundraising adventure race, between two brothers. Luke and Dan Gosling are pitted against each other and the elements in a fundraising project that is about brotherhood between nations. At noon on 10 May, Luke started sea-kayaking and sailing from Cullen Bay in Darwin, 600 km across the Timor Sea. Dan will start his 300km 'cross country' run from Tutuala to Dili. Then it is brother against brother until the finish at Dili Harbour on 20th May 2003- the first birthday of the now free -- East Timor. Dan says, "Our plan is to promote East Timor's 'next step' towards true Independence. We'll be supporting vulnerable women and children as well as promoting the beauty and the opportunities available in the world's newest nation." The project aims to contribute to rebuilding the country by donating funds raised to the following organizations: The Alola Foundation -- This project has already raised $8,000 for victims of Gender Based Violence and Timorese women widowed during East Timor's violent history. East Timor National Hospital -- Midwifery Services. The project will raise funds for desperately needed equipment in Dili National Hospital's Maternity Ward. Balibo House.

The Vice Minister of Health, Mr Luis Lobato yesterday officially opened the "Districts Health Chiefs and Hospital Directors' Evaluation Workshop" at Dili National Hospital. The workshop is aimed at evaluating last year's programme said Mr Lobato.

The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr Lu-Olo said yesterday that the Democratic Christian Party is not Fretilin's stepson. According to Mr Lu-Olo, he was asked to mediate in that party's internal conflict. Mr Lu-Olo said "As the Speaker of the Parliament I have the moral responsibility to accept the request". (The DCP's conflict arose because of the discordance between the President and the Vice President's stand on the Opposition Parties National Platform signed by 8 Opposition Parties).

The Timor Post reported that the President of Fretilin and National Parliament, Mr Lu-Olo said that parties' internal problems should not be a threat for the national stability. Mr Lu-Olo underlined the current internal problems facing by the Democratic Christian Party and the Social Democratic Party by saying "no one party could create a threat for the destabilization of this country".

East Timor formally joined the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of nations on Tuesday and Timor-Leste's Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, said the move will increase European investment into Timor's fragile economy. "Timor's businessmen want ACP membership to benefit from development aid and to find partners to create small to medium-sized firms", said Alkatiri in Brussels after signing the accord to make Timor the ACP's 79th member state. An ACP-EU ministerial meeting on Friday will approve Timor-Leste's accession to the Contonu Accord. This Accord controls cooperation between the two regional blocs. Alkatiri said that the sectors of Timor's economy that would gain most from EU development aid would be textiles and clothing. Alkatiri remains in Brussels until Friday to attend the ACP-EU meeting. Before then, he will hold talks with a number of senior EU officials, including Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten and Justice Commissioner Antsnio Vitorino.

The FDTL Chief of Staff, Colonel Lere Anan Timor told Timor Post that it is difficult to determine the number of militia which have entered the country because the border between Timor-Leste and Indonesia is vast. He stressed that although the security is under the UNPKF it is not easy for the peacekeepers to cover all the areas. Lere Anan Timor said that the situation gets more complex because the militia are not Indonesians but Timorese people who know the ground very well. He added that FDTL received information recently on an armed group of six to seven men in Lospalos. Members of the Armed Forces went to investigate but only found footprints. Lere Anan Timor added that the information has been passed on to the PKF. He is certain that there are militia in Timor-Leste, he said. Timor-Leste needs to strengthen the relationship with Indonesia to tackle militia activities. "There is no other way to tackle ex-militia groups that are infiltrating into Timor-Leste than strengthened the relationship and cooperation with Indonesia. Therefore, the government needs to take concrete steps to handle the militia groups as well as the remaining refugees in Indonesia," the President of the National Parliament Francisco Guterres was quoted as saying after a meeting with President Gusmco on Tuesday, May 14. The meeting was attended by representatives of all political parties. Three points were discussed in the meeting: national security, conflict between opposition parties and the government of Fretilin and national reconciliation. It is reported that suggestion for a national dialogue between political parties' leaders to end conflict among them was also discussed. According to Armando Silva (PL) the conflict between political parties can contribute to national instability and is becoming a concern among the population, reported Timor Post. President Xanana warmly welcomed the suggestion for a national dialogue, but the three points mentioned earlier were the focus of discussion as well as internal problem in the political parties which have become a national concern, reported the Timor Post.

May 14, 2003

The Timor Post reported that the Parliament member from Fretilin, Mr. Jose de Andrade said in the Plenary session yesterday that there is a suspicion of an armed militia group's infiltration into the Bobonaro District, heading towards the Ermera District. In response to the report, the Vice Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Jacob Fernandes said that the issue has also been raised by President Xanana Gusmao during his visit to Ermera. According to Mr. Fernandes the security forces already have knowledge about the matter.

KOTA Party's representative in the Parliament, Mr. Manuel Tilman told Timor Post last Monday that the appointment and approval of the President of the Appeals Court was undertaken through a legal process. Mr. Tilman expressed his congratulations and honor to his former class mate, Mr Claudio de Jesus Ximenes. According to Mr. Tilman, the Appeals Court's President has a difficult job in nurturing the judicial system.

In an exclusive interview with Timor Post at his office in the Parliament building, the President of Fretilin and Speaker of the National Parliament, Mr. Lu-Olo said that the Government has made significant progress despite facing a lot of difficulties. Mr. Lu-Olo also explained Timor-Leste's economic vision. According to Mr. Lu-Olo the vision, as stipulated in the Constitution, is based on three main sectors the public sector, the private sector and community cooperatives.

The Conselho Popular de Defesa da Republica Democratica de Timor Leste (CPD-RDTL) has sent a protest letter to the press complaining about statements by the General Coordinator of the CAAC and CAAV Commission, Mr. Duarte Viana. Mr. Viana had stated in Timor Post, on May 2, 2003 that the time limit for the Ex- Combatants and Veterans to fill out a registration form ends on June 30, 2003. He said the Commission would not be responsible for claims made by those who have not registered before the deadline. The CPD-RDTL protest letter's also noted restoration of November 28, 1975 as Independence Day. The CPD-RDTL does not recognize the existing CAAC -- CAAV Commission, because it was set up by the UNTAET administration, said the letter. The letter was sent by the Central Secretary of CPD-RDTL and signed by Ivo de Jesus Sequeira.

Suara Timor Lorose's front page describes the same story about the armed groups' infiltration from West Timor.

The Head of Dili District's Public Defender, Mr. Vicente Fernandes e Brito said that the Government of Timor-Leste and Indonesia had set up a "Joint Investigation Team" for the Atabae's case. [The Atabae's case was an attack carried out by an armed group on a passenger bus and a dump truck in the area of Atabae which caused several injuries and some death]. The aim of the team is to undertake a joint investigation since some of the the alleged attackers are in custody in Timor-Leste and some are in West Timor.

In response to the Social Democratic Party's request to dismiss Mr. Leandro Isaac, the President of the Parliament Mr. Lu-Olo said that Mr. Leandro Isaac still has the right to be a member of the Parliament, because he did not violate any internal regulations.

President Xanana Gusmao met with three Indonesian investors from Jakarta Aviation Quality Assurance Company. They were Soenarjo Hartosuripto, Daniel R. Tumbuan and Joseph Wijanto Harjadi. They met with President Xanana for a "courtesy call". The Company will invest in the oil sector and other sectors include coconut oil production for cooking, eco-tourism development, agriculture and capacity building. They will meet with the Prime Minister to submit their proposals and the follow up, if the proposals get approved.

May 13, 2003

Suara Timor Lorosae reported that Mr Jose Ramos Horta, Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate ended his week long private visit to Washington DC on Friday with a meeting with United States Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powel. The meeting was attended by the US Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Mr. James Kelly and other senior officials. Dr Ramos Horta was accompanied by RDTL Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, Mr. Jose Luis Guterres and the Embassy's Political Counsellor, Mr. Constancio Pinto. In comments to the Press at the end of his visit, Dr Ramos Horta said "the people of Timor-Leste have many friends in the US. Everywhere our friends understand that we need and deserve continuing support. It would not make sense that a country which has shown itself to be a friend of the US and has been independent for only one year is penalized with such a significant reduction in aid for the poor. I am hopeful that our friends in the US will maintain the same level of assistance to Timor-Leste ".

The Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Olimpio Branco was appointed as the President of the Independence Day Celebration's Commission. In a press release yesterday, Mr. Branco said that each district will receive $4.000 in cash for the event. The Organizing Committee will promote sport and cultural events.

The Appeals Court's President Claudio de Jesus Ximenes was sworn in yesterday at the Appeals Court Office by the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. In his speech, President Xanana Gusmao said that the national interest should be safeguarded rather than allowing personal privilege to damage the judicial system. Mr. Ximenes, in his inaugural speech as President of the Appeals Court, said that it is his major responsibility to nurture the judicial system.

The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Lu-Olo said there is no reason for the Opposition Parties to make a coup d'etat against the constitutional government. Mr. Lu-Olo emphasized that the people of this nation can learn valuable lessons from past experiences. Mr. Lu-Olo recalled the 1975 civil war in Timor-Leste.

The Commission for the Veterans and the Former Combatants (CAAC ? CAAV) has registered 6.000 persons at the end of the time limit on June 30, 2003. The Commission expressed the constraints and successes they face during their work in the field. (STL did not cite the spoke person's name, where the interview occurred or the date).

The Timor Post reported that speaking in the ceremony for the swearing in of the Appeals Court's President yesterday at the Appeals Court office in Caicoli, President Xanana Gusmao said that justice is the foundation of the supremacy of law. Mr Xanana Gusmao emphasized the importance of justice in a democratic nation.

The General Secretary of the Democratic Party, Mr Mariano Sabino said "Don't scare the people with rumors". Mr Sabino's comments resulted from a letter by a high ranking member of an unmentioned party from Baucau to the Minister of Internal Affairs. The letter described the possibility of a coup d'etat by police officers affiliated to the Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party. The Speaker of the Parliament read the letter in the plenary session. (Timor Post did not mention when the letter was received).

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr Jose Ramos Horta asked the United States of America not to reduce the amount of aid to Timor-Leste.(Timor Post repeated the same story already described in STL).

East Timor local media monitoring

May 12, 2003

The Timor Post reported that the Deputy of the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Mr. Sukehiro Hasegawa met with President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to discuss the follow up to the "Respect Program". Mr. Hasegawa said that the aid that has been given by the Government of Japan will not be distributed, but the fund will be disbursed according to the criteria that has been set and with the approval of the district's Respect Program Steering Committee. During the meeting, the discussions were mostly about the implementation and disbursement process. The recipients of the "Respect Program" are: a) Ex Combatants, b) Vulnerable Groups ? Widows, unemployed youths. There are 3 priority areas for the program: agriculture, infrastructure rehabilitation and vocational trainings. The Steering Committee is composed as follows: National level ? The Minister for Development and Environment, The State Secretary for Labor and Solidarity and other line ministers and UNDP. The District level is composed of the District Administrator, representatives of Departments and other representatives (church, Non Government Organizations).

Eurest, an International Company wants to buy the picture taken of Xanana Gusmao when he was captured by TNI soldiers in November 20, 1992. The Company has offered an amount of $5,000 for the photograph. The photograph belongs to the Veterans Association. (Timor Post did not mention who took the picture).

Mr. Manuel Tilman from the KOTA Party said that the problem of the Metal Enterprise against the Government ( Prime Minister and the State Secretary of Commerce and Industry) needs to be handled carefully. Mr. Tilman told Timor Post on Friday that the problem was brought to the Parliament by the Metal Enterprise's Director, Mr Wong Kee Jin and the Parliament is waiting for clarification from the Government. The Director of the Metal Enterprise Company has sent a protest note to the Parliament. He complained about the Government's actions of closing down his company. Mr Jin has also taken the case to the court.

Suara Timor Lorosae reported that the ex-Commander of the Pro Autonomy militia, Mr. Joao da Silva Tavares said in Atambua, that he was very disappointed by comments made by Indonesian officials. The East Nusa Tenggara Province's Governor said that the status of the former East Timor refugees is yet to be made clear. In response to Mr. Tavares statement, the Governor of East Nusa Tenggara, Mr. Piet Tallo said that the refugees must decide about their nationality. If they decide to be Indonesian citizenships they must obey the existing law.

President Xanana Gusmao said that democracy will vanish if we do not have an effective judicial system in place. Mr. Xanana made the comments before the Appeals Court President was sworn in this afternoon at Palacio das Cinzas. The President of the Appeals Court, Mr. Claudio de Jesus Ximenes, was appointed by Mr. Xanana Gusmao. Mr. Ximenes will also undertake the Supreme Court duties though this highest judicial institution has yet to be established. The Internal Minister, Mr. Rogerio Lobato and the Police Commander, Mr. Paulo de Fatima Martins were taken to court by the President of the Christian Democratic Party, Mr Antonio Ximenes. He took Mr. Lobato and Mr. Martins to court about allegations of nepotism in the recruitment process of the National Police members. The case was presented at Dili Court on Thursday, 8th May.

May 9, 2003

Timor Post reported that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Jose Ramos Horta and the Bishop of Dili and Baucau, Monsignor Basilio do Nascimento are both in Washington. This is a busy week for Timor-Leste in the American capital. Dr. Ramos Horta is the honored guest of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) at its annual meeting being held in Washington. Bishop Basilio do Nascimento is on a separate visit to the United States at the invitation of the Fundagco Luso-Americano para o Desenvolvimento. The two Timorese leaders have been busy meeting with a wide range of senior officials in the Administration and Congress. On a separate occasion, yesterday Timor-Leste's Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Jose Luis Guterres presented his credentials to President George W. Bush as Timor-Leste's first Ambassador to the United States. Dr Ramos Horta met with senior USAID officials on Wednesday. In the course of his meetings, Timor-Leste's Senior Minister appealed for continuing support and a review of the current allocation of the funds. According to Dr Ramos Horta, more funds should be allocated to the economic sector, focusing on job creation programs for veterans and youth. Dr Ramos Horta said: " Of the $25 million earmarked for 2003, a disproportionate amount has been allocated to Democracy and Governance. Other donors are also supporting this sector. I think we are having an over-dose of democracy and governance. I prefer to see more money going into job creation and poverty reduction. While democracy and governance are essential for peace, stability and investors confidence, I think that donors should allocate more funds to boost the economy, help the rural poor, support education and public health".

Prime Minister Mari Alkatii reported the "Open Government" visit to President Xanana Gusmao, yesterday at Palacio das Cinzas. The Head of State and the Head of Government discussed the essence of their visits and the follow up of the issues delivered by the community during the meeting. The Government has completed the "Open Government" visit to the District of Same, while the President has also visited the District of Ermera.

In an exclusive interview with Timor Post yesterday in the Government Palace, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said that Opposition Parties National Unity Platform will not endure the test of time, lasting only three months. Mr. Alkatiri said that the actual Government's rule is not based on coup d'etat, but was a result of a democratic election. He said that the people rest their confidence in the Government to govern this country.

Suara Timor Lorose reported that Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri held a meeting with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Rogerio Lobato, Vice Minister of Internal Affairs, Alcino Barros, the Police Commander, Mr. Paulo de Fatima Martins and other line ministers to discuss the formation of a new special police unit. During the meeting, Prime Minister said that Police as an institution with the task to maintain law, order and internal stability must be well organized.

The signatories of the Political Platform of National Unity, yesterday met with President Xanana Gusmao at Palacio das Cinzas to inform and to deliver the Political Platform of National Unity structure and their program. After the meeting, the Secretary General of PST, Mr Avelino Coelho on behalf of the signatories, told the press that the aim of meeting the President is to present what has been formulated. According to Mr Coelho, the Opposition Parties have the right to voice their concerns as stipulated in the Constitution.

The President of Partido Democratico Cristao (PDC), Mr Antonio Ximenes, has dismissed his Vice President, Mr Jose Serreno Gomes as a result of the involvement of Mr Gomes with the Political Platform of National Unity (Opposition Parties Political Umbrella) without his consent. Mr Ximenes held a press conference on Wednesday at the National Parliament building to announce the Vice President's dismissal. The Deputy Director of the Dili Institute of Technology, Mr Estanislau de Sousa Saldanha in an interview with STL today, said that the College will celebrate its first anniversary tomorrow. According to Mr Saldanha, one year of existence is not long enough for an institution to develop, but they will move gradually to that objective.

May 8, 2003

Suara Timor Lorosae reported that The National Parliament, yesterday received a protest note from Metal Enterprise Director Mr. Wong Kee Jin a Malaysian entrepreneur based in Dili. Mr. Jin complained about the Government's actions of closing down his company. Mr. Jin has also taken the case to the court. The Speaker of the Parliament, Mr. Lu-Olo said that the case is being handled by the court and he respects the court's independence to solve the problem. Mr. Jin was accused of tax fraud.

The Ambassador of Brazil, Mr. Kwial de Oliveira said "There to be needs an organization set up to accommodate and strengthen the mutual cooperation between Brazilian and Timorese entrepreneurs". Mr. Oliveira met with Timor-Leste's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Secretary General, Mr. Rui Manuel Castro on Tuesday at their office in Vila Verde.

President Xanana Gusmao and representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent gave a press conference to mark the anniversary of both organizations. At another opportunity to answer reporters' questions about the PSD internal conflict, Mr. Xanana said "The PSD conflict, is an internal problem. However, do not emphasize the negative side, we need also to look at the positive aspects of the problem".

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, yesterday visited the National Hospital in Dili for an eye check up and also to thank the ophthalmology specialists from Australia for helping those in need.

The Timor Post reported that President Xanana Gusmao, has responded to the PSD's Vice President, Mr. Leandro Isaac claims that Mr. Xanana Gusmao was involved in the creation of the PSD party in the year 2002. According to Mr. Xanana Gusmao he was supportive and still in line with the democracy multi parties system. He did not give explicit orders to someone to form a certain party.

The FDTL Commander General Taur Matan Ruak appealed to Timor- Leste's citizens not to trust recent rumors that there will be a militia demonstration on Independence Day. Mr. Ruak's intention to calm down the panic situation at the border with West Timor.

The Speaker of the National Parliament, Mr. Lu-Olo said that the National Parliament has no competence to dismiss Mr. Leandro Isaac. According to Mr. Lu-Olo all members of the Parliament are guided by the Internal Code of Conduct. Currently the Internal Code of Conduct has no regulation to deal with this specific situation.

The Democratic Christian Party (PDC) is facing internal conflict between the President, Mr. Antonio Ximenes and the Vice President, Mr. Jose Serreno Gomes. Mr. Ximenes has dismissed the Vice President from PDC as a result of the involvement of Mr. Gomes with the Political Platform of National Unity (Opposition Parties' Political Umbrella) without his consent. Mr. Ximenes held a press conference on Wednesday at the Parliament building to announce the Vice President's dismissal.

May 5, 2003

Timor Post reported that uring his "Open Government" visit to the District of Same on Friday, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said that the Government will hold elections in 2007, according to the Constitution. "The Government has no intention to undertake an early election as urged by some groups" said Mr Mari Alkatiri. (the Prime Minister didn't mention which groups) The Prime Minister also mentioned the "December 4, 2002 incident" and reiterated that if it happens again, the Government will not tolerate lawlessness. He said all exit points (border, ports and airports) will be sealed off. In reference to the media, Mr Mari Alkatiri said that the national radio and television are opposing the Government, even though they receive a substantial financial support from the Government.

The Interior Minister, Mr Rogerio Lobato said "we can choose friends, but not neighbours". Mr Lobato was speaking at the graduation ceremony of the PNTL (Policia Nacional de Timor-Leste) on Saturday in Batugade. The PNTL commander, Mr Paulo de Fatima Martins also gave a speech during the graduation ceremony. He said that border control police will be equipped with 300 horses to help them with their work in the remote areas near the border.

Suara Timor Lorosae reported that in the welcome speech to the "Open Government" delegation visit, the Sub-District Administrator of Fatuberliu, Mr Tobias Hornai, said that the community of Fatuberliu is facing tremendous difficulty because of no road accees to market the community's agricultural commodities. He said this was the major impediment to boosting the district economy.

In response to the Fatuberliu community's appeal to the national leaders to be united and avoid an internal "cold war", Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said that the Opposition Parties are ambitious. He said they can not afford to wait any longer to become prime minister and ministers. Mr Mari Alkatiri said that Opposition Parties always blame the Government even though what the Government is doing is correct.

Rui Menezes, a Democratic Party representative in the Parliament, has criticised the style of democracy being applied in the National Parliament by the ruling party. Mr Menezes said that "democracy" in the Parliament is being guided by the majority (ruling party) and within the ruling party there are some people with an authoritarian mentality, camouflaged as democracy. In support of his argument, he said that all bills and regulations approved by the Parliament had been done even though they did not reflect community aspirations. He also cited the controversial articles 11 and 12 of the Immigration Law as an example.

There was a short story on page one about the sixty four border patrol police that graduated on Saturday in Batugade.

Mr Cancio Xavier from Public Defender's Office said that the political parties which existed in 1975 must take responsibility for the 1975 conflict. He made these comments on Friday to STL about the Reconciliation, Reception and Truth Commission Public Hearing into the events surrounding the 1975 conflict.

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