|Subject: East Timor headlines/ 19 Feb 2001
1. Bishop Basilio: Be Patient About Independence (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)
The Catholic Bishop of Baucau, Mgr Basilio do Nascimento reminded the people that the path to full independence requires full patience and a lot of hard work.
“I’m not worried whether the transition process is fast or slow. What is more important is the capacity and readiness of the Timorese people to be fully involved in the political, legal and social aspects of the country,” said Bishop Basilio in a public hearing with Political Affairs Commission of the National Council last Saturday.
The public hearing was chaired by the Head of the NC’s Political Commission, Agio Pereira. Present at the hearing were representatives from political parties, the press and social groups involved in the debate over the regulation to cover political parties.
Bishop Basilio also emphasized that the reconciliation process was important for the country to move forward.
2. Elections To Build A Constitutional Assembly (Timor Post, Front Page headline)
The general election, which is planned for 30 August 2001, is only to choose members for the Constitutional Assembly, and not members for the Timor Lorosae parliament. The Assembly will then draft the country’s constitution.
This was stated by the Minister of Political Affairs in the Transitional Cabinet, Peter Galbraith, when he gave his comments, at the National Council, in support of the Regulation for the Registration of Political Parties.
Peter Galbraith said the Constitutional Assembly will be given several responsibilities including to initiate debate whether the Assembly could become the Parliament of Timor Lorosae and whether the Assembly members could become members of Parliament.
The Constitutional Assembly will also decide whether Timor Lorosae needed another general election and determine the date of the country’s independence.
“The National Council and UNTAET do not have the right to determine whether the Constitutional Assembly automatically becomes the Parliament of Timor Lorosae. This is because the NC members are not chosen by the people,” said Peter Galbraith. Also, he said, the National Council did not have the right to choose the electoral system and determine citizenship.
3. Portugal Initiates Twin City Concept For Baucau and Liquica (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page second lead)
The Mayor of Oeiras city, Dr Isaltino de Morais, and the Mayor of Poiares, Dr Jaime C. Martha Soares both from Portugal are exploring the possibility of twining their cities with Baucau and Liquica.
The two mayors are also, in Dili, to also analyse how much aid has gone to both Baucau and Liquica.
The Infrastructure Minister, Joao Carrascalao, who is playing host to the two mayors said last year Oeiras city helped repair the Liquica hospital, schools in Manatuto and Bacau while Poiares gave grants for the repair of school buildings in Liquica.
Joao Carrascalao said that though the grants were not big, they were made on a people-to-people basis from the two cities.
On the question of twin cities, Joao Carrascalao said the two mayors would be talking to East Timor’s leaders and leaders in both districts. The two Portuguese mayors arrived on 17 Feb and will be in Timor Lorosae for the next six days.
4. Today Ainaro People Meet the Two Carvalhos (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page side-bar)
If there are no obstacles, the people’s representative of Ainaro District today will meet with Cancio Lopes Carvalho and Nemecio Lopes Carvalho at the border between Timor Lorosae and West Timor.
This was stated by UNTAET’s spokesperson Barbara Reis at a press conference last Friday. According to Barbara, the meeting will be chaired by the Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Melo.
This meeting came about because of the efforts of UNTAET’s Chief of Staff Nagalingam Parameswaran who met with the Ainaro people and got their assurances that they were ready to receive back Cancio and Nemecio provided the two accepted the results of the 30 August 1999 popular consultation.
The return of the two pro-integration brothers, and former militia leaders, was discussed on 14 November last year at Batugade along the border. After that, Parameswaran met with Cancio Lopes three times.
In his meeting with the press, Parameswaran said thousands of refugees in West Timor will return to Timor Lorosae if reconciliation talks between the former militia leaders and the peoples’ representatives are successful.
“I hope the reconciliation will encourage the refugees [ from West Timor] to return after April,” said Parameswaran.
5. 300 M-16 Rifles Arrive For FDTL (Timor Post, Page 2 lead)
300 M-16 rifles arrived in East Timor last Thursday. The rifles are part of a grant to the National Defense Force (FDTL) from the Australian government. The rifles will be sent to the FDTL headquarters in Aileu to be used by the first batch of FDTL trainees.
Meanwhile 250 FDTL members will start training today, while a further 400 more will be trained in May. This was announced by UNTAET’s spokesperson Barbara Reis at a press conference last Friday.
Barabara said the training will be carried by 10 officers from the Portuguese Defense Forces, who were already in Aileu. She said the training was for three months and Aileu would be used as a temporary training center.
At the same press conference, PKF spokesperson Tor Aarsenth said the number of peace-keeping forces in the country will not be reduced or increased, although PKF will be assisted by an FDTL battalion.
6. Timorisation (Suara Timor Lorosae editorial, Page 5)
One of the most important aspects of an independent country is that the people must feel that they are the masters of their own destinies. Because of that, we greet with open arms the Transitional Administrator’s report to the UN Security Council, on 26 January, emphasizing the importance of the Timorization process.
But the success of UNTAET in a quantitative manner, to increase the role of the East Timorese people, has not been matched by similar attempts in a qualitative manner. A qualitative manner does not mean members of the National Council; ETTA Cabinet members; the number of local District Administrators; or the number of civil servants. What we mean by qualitative is having more East Timorese make management, planning, assessment and evaluation decisions.
If there is just satisfaction in quantity, then we are no different from the time when the Indonesians were running this country where 70 per cent of the civil servants were East Timorese and all top decisions were made by the Indonesians.
This problem must be taken seriously by UNTAET, the National Council, and the ETTA Cabinet. UNTAET must realize that though independence is of ultimate importance, the road towards independence is just as important, too. Many Timorese are disappointed because the Timorisation process just appears to be on the surface, with numbers more important than having the power to make crucial decisions.
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