Subject: SMH: Gusmao: Where is the aid going?

Sydney Morning Herald May 26, 2000

Gusmao: Where is the aid going?

By Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Dili

The East Timor independence leader Mr Xanana Gusmao has threatened to boycott a key international donors' meeting in Portugal because of concerns over the UN's accountability with donor funds.

The Lisbon donors' meeting scheduled for June 23 is expected to hear UN budget proposals for East Timor.

The threat is the most serious evidence of the deteriorating relationship between the CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance), of which Mr Gusmao is president, and the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor. CNRT sources said Mr Gusmao stormed out of a meeting with UNTAET's Deputy Special Representative for Governance and Public Administration, Mr Jean-Christian Cady, on Wednesday, angered at UN stonewalling over the provision of a breakdown of spending in East Timor.

Mr Gusmao was reported to be furious over reports that UNTAET had spent $US15 million ($26.3 million) of funds pledged by donors at last December's Tokyo conference on motor vehicles for the UN Civilian Police (Civpol).

The sight of UN officials driving around in brand new air-conditioned four-wheel-drives has lent itself to a new expression in Dili, "White Car Syndrome".

A total of $US522 million was pledged to East Timor at the December 17 conference in Tokyo convened jointly by the UN and the World Bank. Of this, $US149 million was earmarked for humanitarian activities and $US373.5 million for civil administration, reconstruction and development.

"We had asked for a breakdown and we were not given a breakdown. The final report we were given was too generalised. We want to know what was spent," one senior CNRT official told the Herald.

Mr Gusmao told senior CNRT officials it would be immoral to go to Lisbon and ask for additional reconstruction aid to rebuild his shattered country if he was unaware of how the UN had spent previous donor funds.

The threat of a Lisbon boycott by Mr Gusmao follows a request earlier this week to the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, by the CNRT's ambassador at large, Mr Jose Ramos Horta, that UNTAET replace all its district administrators (DAs) with East Timorese by August.

Mr Ramos Horta, a Nobel Peace laureate, says he is unimpressed with the performance and qualifications of many of the DAs, arguing that East Timorese need the experience if they are to run the country themselves, and could do the job just as well.

The DAs themselves have expressed disquiet about the way they have been left out of key decision making by senior Dili-based UN bureaucrats. In a protest note signed on April 4 addressed to Mr Cady, they accused UNTAET of "crisis mode" policy-making and that excluded the concerns of Timorese.

Domestic issues may lie at the root of CNRT's concerns about the disbursement of UN funds.

One official, who asked not to be named, said CNRT officials were coming under increasing pressure from local people, particularly those in impoverished rural communities, hearing of generous donations made by the international community to East Timor but receiving little or nothing themselves.

Mr Gusmao's sudden interest in bookkeeping may also be linked to allegations that certain CNRT officials and supporters have siphoned funds. Nobody at the CNRT seems to know what happened to a $US100,000 donation from the Chinese Government given to a Macau-based official last December.

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