Subject: AP: Timor cabinet members renege threat

Timor cabinet members renege threat

Associated Press - December 9, 2000

Dili -- Four East Timor advisory Cabinet members who threatened to resign backed down Saturday after a meeting with the UN administration of the former Indonesian province, saying they were satisfied they will receive more power in the future.

"We succeeded in discussing the system and how to move to a new system that can really achieve an effective administration for East Timor with a fuller participation of East Timorese," Cabinet member Mari Alkatiri said after a four-hour meeting at the residence of UN administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello.

The United Nations is overseeing East Timor's transition following a UN-sponsored referendum last year in which its people voted overwhelmingly for freedom from Indonesia.

The advisory Cabinet, set up in July to give local people experience so they will be ready when the UN steps aside and the territory becomes independent next year, includes four UN staff members and five East Timorese.

Alkatiri and three of the other East Timorese -- Anna Pessoa, Filomeno Jacob and Joao Carrascalao -- said in a letter to Vieira de Mello last week that they were "caricatures of ministers" with "no power, no duties, no resources to function adequately."

After Saturday's meeting, Vieira de Mello stressed the United Nations had never before been responsible for both governing a territory and handing over power to a future independent government. "We're inventing something new," he said.

International staff in East Timor's temporary government are subordinate to Cabinet members, a situation Vieira de Mello conceded may have contributed to discord within its ranks. "There might be isolated cases where individuals, even unconsciously, may not have accepted the fact that they are subordinate to East Timorese Cabinet members," he said.

Also Saturday, military officials said an Australian soldier in East Timor's 7,500-member UN peacekeeping force was injured when the weapon he was cleaning accidentally went off, military officials said Saturday. His condition is serious but not life- threatening.

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