Subject: DN: Leandro Isaac criticizes UN performance

East Timor : Leader criticizes UN performance

05/12/2000 BBC Monitoring Source: `Diario de Noticias' web site, Lisbon, in Portuguese

Excerpt from interview by Francisco Mangas with Timorese leader Leandro Isaac, entitled: "The people do not know what the UN is doing", published by Portuguese newspaper `Diario de Noticias' web site on 12th May, subheading as received

... [`Diario de Noticias'] How do you see the reconstruction process?

[Isaac] It is far, far behind. As I have said, what the people feel is the slowness of the UN machinery. In six months we have not seen signs of the reconstruction.

[Q] And the Timorese are starting to lose confidence?

[A] Exactly. And worse, the people do not feel it. I have not yet felt that I am being prepared to live in a new country. This is very bad.

[Q] What don't you feel?

[A] There is no transparency. People do not know what this UN transition government is doing. And because they do not know they feel they are not being prepared.

[Q] What are the main problems?

[A] At the beginning we needed food. Today that problem has been overcome. But man does not live on bread alone: we want to feel that we are already a country.

[Q] Does unemployment worry you... [ellipsis as published]

[A] It is the most important problem, we have 95 per cent unemployment. And there is no sign from the government of any initiative to resolve this problem.

[Q] Falintil's [East Timor National Liberation Armed Forces] situation is delicate.

[A] It is regrettable that Falintil, a symbol of our struggle for 24 years, has been abandoned. UNTAET [UN Transitional Administration in East Timor ] has not promoted any initiative to resolve this situation. It was a good thing that on this occasion Portugal gave us a hand. With this help, for which we are very grateful, we can manage for a while. It is better for the Falintil men to die of hunger in the mountains than to die of hunger in cantonments, in a devastated country.

[Q] Even Sergio Vieira de Mello [head of UNTAET] has recognized that reconstruction is slow.

[A] It is just as well he has recognized this, because until now he had not recognized this transition government's mistake. The UN knew that Timor had to undergo this transition process, but it was not prepared. I welcome this recognition, but it is not enough to recognized in the newspapers, we want something done about it.

[Q] How do you see Mello's performance?

[A] I do not know it, there is no transparency. People do not know what Sergio Vieira de Mello is doing.

[Q] Is there no dialogue with the CNRT [National Council for Timorese Resistance]?

[A] I do not know how he talks to the CNRT. I have been a member of the National political Commission since its creation, and I still do not know how this is done. If it is through the National Consultative Council, a UNTAET organ, because the decisions are taken by consensus, this is through an illegitimate body.

[Q] Should the Timorese already be in senior posts, is that it?

[A] I think that the transition model should be us, or we should be in the executive and not just in the consultative council. It is not enough. It is not in this council that we should be preparing to rebuild our country.

[Q] The question of the refugees also remains to be resolved?

[A] We knew very well that the refugees were forced by the Indonesian army, we know very well they want to return - but the militias and the army do not allow them. This is known to the UN, which has not yet tried to resolve the problem or press Indonesia.

"My ambition is to be a good opposition"

[Q]When do you think elections will be held?

[A] The CNRT has already decided that six months before the end of the transitional government, electoral and party legislation should be prepared. And three months before that the parties will start preparing the electorate politically. Once this process is complete we will choose our legitimate representatives in democracy.

[Q] Leandro Isaac is a member of UDT [ Timorese Democratic Union], which marks its 26th anniversary today (yesterday). Can this party win the elections?

[A] Personally, that is not my ambition. My ambition is to prepare and educate myself to become a good opposition in a democratic country. That is my ambition, as for the rest we will wait and see.

[Q] Is Fretilin [Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor ] more likely to win?

[A] It all depends. The last word obviously rests with the Timorese people.

[Q] What are your predictions?

[A] In 24 years of intense struggle, the people have been through and witnessed various experiences. Today, the people can look and see what is behind a hill. Today, the political agents, especially them, must be transparent, honest, sincere and simple towards the people.

[Q] As for the presidency, is everything easier, no major doubts... [ellipsis as published]

[A] There is no doubt at all. The first president will be Xanana Gusmao [president of CNRT, who has repeatedly said he does not wish to be the new country's president]. We will vote for him.

[Q] Other than UDT and Fretilin, what other political forces are there?

[A] We have the Timorese Socialist Party, the Democratic Christian Union and the traditional parties such as the Monarchist Party and the Labour Party. The CNRT has already asked all these forces to organize themselves. After that we will see.

[Q] But the real contest will be between UDT and Fretilin... [ellipsis as published]

[A] Yes, they are the main forces. The others are still getting organized.

[Q] What will Timor 's official language be?

[A] The CNRT as is known advocates the Portuguese language as the official language for Timor . Therefore we will work towards this.

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