Subject: DPA: UN administrator pledges East Timorese role in decision-making

Deutsche Presse-Agentur March 29, 2000, Wednesday, BC Cycle U.N. administrator pledges East Timorese role in decision-making

Dili, East Timor

The chief administrator of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) has pledged to throw the doors open for Timorese participation in decision-making as the first step in grooming the new nation's leaders to assume full independence.

Sergio de Mello, the UNTAET chief, said in an interview Tuesday with the Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa: "We will begin the process of transformation from our UNTAET international foreign superstructure into a new East Timorese administration with a command and control structure over international staff. We have East Timorese bosses."

During the first six months of U.N.'s attempts to run the territory, Timorese leaders have complained of being treated as second-class citizens in their own country, and excluded from U.N. decision-making.

Maria Bernadino, an aid worker and member of an East Timorese group monitoring the U.N.'s performance in rebuilding the country, commented: "The foreigners are running every single U.N. department, expatriate businessmen are making fast bucks, and we are going from one colonisation to another."

De Mello is seeking to overturn that image by going beyond the existing consultative mechanisms and recruiting qualified East Timorese professionals as deputies to all departmental heads in Dili. Outside the capital Dili, Timorese deputies will similarly be appointed to each district administrator.

De Mello, who last year set up the civil administration in Kosovo, said: "This will be a new culture of foreigners taking orders from East Timorese."

Currently, the only government agency being effectively run by Timorese is border control, customs and immigration.

Although under Indonesian rule few Timorese were given any high-level training or management expertise, a number of qualified professionals have returned from exile. Many of them are now serving as advisers to the Timorese Resistance Movement (CNRT).

The East Timorese permanent civil service commission has also just been formed and will recruit 7,000 members of its staff during the course of the year.

De Mello, turning to the problem of East Timorese liberation army Falintil, which has complained of acute food shortages and poor living conditions ever since it complied with the U.N.'s policy of cantonment, said the complaints are "very valid."

"Falintil has behaved in an exemplary manner," he said.

UNTAET has ordered mattresses to be sent up to the resistance army's cantonment camp in Aileu, and other basic necessities to be provided, de Mello added.

He praised Falintil for its civic role in support of reconciliation and for protecting refugees returning from West Timor.

Recruitment of Timorese for senior staff positions has already begun, de Mello said. He predicted that by June, the new-look administration would be in place.

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