Subject: KY: E. Timor administrator to seek U.N. nod for 'co-gov't

E. Timor administrator to seek U.N. nod for 'co-gov't


Kyodo News

DILI, East Timor , June 12 --

The chief of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor said Monday he will seek U.N. Security Council endorsement this month for a co-governance plan under which East Timorese ministers would serve together with U.N. officials in a cabinet.

Sergio Vieira de Mello said, "I will brief the Security Council, and if there are no objections, which I do not expect, we will start implementing these proposals in July."

He was referring to his June 2 proposals for an "accelerated Timorization of the East Timorese administration," in which East Timorese would hold most cabinet portfolios, with the United Nations retaining only the foreign affairs, defense, justice and finance portfolios.

The proposals were made amid mounting criticism among East Timorese of the U.N. administration, which has governed the former Portuguese colony since the 24-year Indonesian occupation ended last October.

It has been accused of being too slow in rebuilding the ravaged territory, for making decisions and setting priorities without sufficient consultation with the East Timorese, for employing unqualified international staff in key positions and for not hiring enough East Timorese.

De Mello, who will brief the Security Council on June 27, said East Timorese independence leaders Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos-Horta have reacted positively to his proposals.

"We have discussed these issues at great length with them and come to an agreement on a number of principles that should guide this Timorization process," he said in a press conference.

Under the proposals, international and East Timorese "ministers" would serve together in a "cabinet" providing policy direction to a mixed international and East Timorese civil service during the transition to independence in one or two years' time.

De Mello noted that the proposal comes on top of other initiatives already under way, including the recruitment of thousands of Timorese civil servants and the appointment of Timorese middle-level managers in the new administration.

He said the U.N. would retain the foreign affairs, defense, justice and finance portfolios because the U.N. cannot abdicate its mandated responsibilities in those areas as long as East Timor is not independent.

But even in those areas, he added, the U.N. will gradually involve a greater number of East Timorese, including at the senior level.

The areas in which East Timorese would have full responsibility, albeit under the supervision of de Mello and his senior staff, would include education, health infrastructure, agriculture and trade.

U.N. officials said the cabinet would have political responsibility for all decisions.

De Mello reportedly said last week that with a shared government, the U.N. administration would no longer "continue to play the unhappy role of punching bag," but would instead "share the blows" with the East Timorese administrators.

U.N. officials say full independence can come at any time following holding of elections and adoption of a constitution. Forecasts for the election date vary from April 2001 to November 2001.

The East Timorese currently have a say in the decision-making process through the National Consultative Council (NCC), which currently includes 11 East Timorese, including a representative from the Catholic Church, and four U.N. members.

De Mello said that despite an earlier agreement to keep the NCC small and manageable, it will be enlarged "because we have realized that the Timorese people feel the NCC is too small, not sufficiently representative and certainly not transparent enough."

He said the enlarged NCC would bring in representatives of human rights organizations, labor organizations, women's organizations, student and youth organizations, traditional chiefs and possibly non-Catholic religious communities.

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