Subject: Xanana Gusmao hails ETimor's first transitional government

Xanana Gusmao hails ETimor's first transitional government

LISBON, July 13 (AFP) - East Timor's first transitional government, comprising resistance leaders and United Nations officials, was hailed on Thursday as a crucial step forward by pro-independence leader Xanana Gusmao, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

Comprising members of the pro-indepence National Resistance Council for East Timor (CNRT) and UN officials, the body unveiled on Wednesday replaces the UN transitional authority in a bid to speed up the "Timorisation" of the territory as a precursor to independence.

Following a meeting here with Timorese political leaders, Gusmao hailed the formation of the new authority as a crucial step forward to full independence.

"I have attempted to create a team spirit in which we can take responsibility for our errors as well as our successes," Gusmao told the Lusa agency.

"This meeting has allowed us to make the first steps along the road to democracy in a spirit of collective responsibility."

Former resistance leaders in the transitional government are Joao Carrascalao from the Timorese Democratic Union, who takes over infrastructure, and Mari Alkatiri from the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of East Timor who is charged with the economy.

Father Filomeno Jacob is responsible for social affairs and Mariano Lopes with the interior.

Mari Alkatiri said the formation of the "government of cohabitation" would focus on creating a political climate for East Timor's eventual full independence.

"It is an important step, but we have to find a way to avoid break-ups... and create a solid cohabitation," he said.

The four international officials named to the body by Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN official responsible for East Timor, were his deputy Jean Christian Cady for emergency services and police, Gita Welsh for justice, Michael Francino for finance and Peter Galbraith for political affairs.

Last month Vieira de Mello announced elections, as a forerunner to the territory's full independence, should take place between August 30 and December 2000.

The Indonesian parliament last month ratified East Timor's August 30 independence vote, formally surrendering its claim to the former Portuguese colony which it invaded in 1975 and formally annexed the following year.


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