Subject: The Age: Timorese Angered Over UN Jobs Deal

The Age [Melbourne] Thursday 30 March 2000

Timorese angered over UN jobs deal


Riot police and UN peacekeepers held back a mob of more than 800 angry East Timorese protesters outside the world body's headquarters in Dili yesterday.

Many in the crowd had shown up for promised job interviews but the UN had earlier cancelled them without informing the applicants.

Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta was called in to quell the crowd.

"I apologise for you coming here ... the information they gave to you was incorrect," Mr Ramos Horta said to the protesters, who had waited for several hours in the blistering heat.

The UN, which is administering East Timor during its transition to independence, said about 2000 applications had been received for available jobs. But it said its staff could only process 15 applicants a day.

The protest came as the chief administrator of the UN's transitional government in East Timor (UNTAET) pledged to throw the doors open to real Timorese participation in decision-making on Dili.

"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," Mr Sergio de Mello said at UN headquarters in Dili.

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

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

Mr 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.

Although under Indonesian rule few Timorese were given any high level of training or management expertise, a number of qualified professionals have returned from exile, many of them serving as advisers to the Timorese resistance movement.


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