Subject: AP: World Bank Warns East Timor About Corruption

Saturday, November 11 7:26 PM SGT

World Bank Warns East Timor About Corruption

DILI, East Timor (AP)--The World Bank warned Saturday that keeping corruption out of East Timor's fledgling bureaucracy will soon become one of the largest problems facing the new nation.

The bank's head in East Timor, Sarah Cliffe, said the territory needs to establish an anti-corruption watchdog to keep a close eye on government activities.

"Fighting corruption will be one of our biggest challenges in the next year," she said.

"You can't get rid of 25 years of a corrupt system overnight. There's always the risk that it re-emerges once the civil service is recruited."

The U.N. is administering East Timor as it struggles to rebuild after a violent break last year from Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975.

Indonesia's government and bureaucracy is ridden with corruption and many critics say graft is seriously hampering the massive Southeast Asian country's economy from recovering from its worst crisis in a generation.

The U.N. is building East Timor's government from the ground up and is preparing the half-island state for democratic elections and self-rule next year. U.N. administrators will start to withdraw soon after that.

Cliffe said signs of nepotism had already been found in a locally run government agency tasked with employing East Timorese teachers.

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