Subject: SCMP: Respect for UN mission is falling, warns local adviser

South China Morning Post Wednesday, March 15, 2000


Respect for UN mission is falling, warns local adviser

Warrior's welcome: former Interfet chief Australian Major-General Peter Cosgrove faces a ceremonial challenge by a Maori warrior as Major Rick Witana looks on. General Cosgrove is in Wellington to thank New Zealand for its contribution to East Timor. Reuters photo


The respect of East Timorese for the United Nations transitional administration's work is waning and it is in danger of being compared to the previous Indonesian colonial regime, observers said yesterday. Francisco Guterres, legal adviser to the main political party, the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT), said the UN's inability to consult directly with the Timorese people might lead to a campaign of civil disobedience in the country.

"The UN is seen as selfish, working to their own agenda without consulting with the people of East Timor," Mr Guterres said in the East Timorese capital, Dili.

"If the community leaders keep complaining and the UN continues to refrain from allowing them to participate in the decision-making, we are afraid this will create civil disobedience against the UN in East Timor."

Mr Guterres, who was involved in setting up the meeting between East Timorese guerilla group Falintil and pro-Jakarta militia in Singapore last month, said that previously, the UN had been viewed as helping the East Timorese.

But over the past month, the UN had made decisions regarding the social and government structure of the new country without consulting CNRT leadership.

"We have discussed this and agreed that the UN administration is now working at a sub-district level without consultation with us.

"This has caused a lot of disappointment in East Timor," Mr Guterres said.

His comments follow the resignation on March 6 of a British UN official, Professor Jarat Chopra, from the UN mission.

Professor Chopra said that he resigned out of frustration as he believed the UN was not setting a meaningful timetable for the transfer of power to the East Timorese.

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