|Subject: East Timor headlines/22 Feb 2001
1. De Mello and Ramos-Horta off to Jakarta Today (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)
Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieria de Mello and the ETTA Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Ramos-Horta will fly to Jakarta today for high-level meetings with Indonesian leaders.
In the delegation with De Mello and Horta will be the Minister for Political and Electoral Affairs Peter Galbraith and UNTAET’s Chief of Staff Nagalingam Parameswaran.
This was confirmed yesterday by UNTAET’s spokesperson Barbara Reis. She told STL that the visit was to strengthen Timor Lorosae Indonesia bilateral ties.
According to Barbara, the delegation will meet with Indonesia’s Social and Political Affairs Minister Bambang Yudhoyono, the head of the People’s Legislative Assembly (DPR), Akbar Tandjung and Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman.
Barbara said the meeting with the AG will touch upon legal questions surrounding those who have committed serious crimes against humanity in Timor Lorosae. According to a close source, the alleged involvement of former Information Minister Yunus Yosfiah in the 1975 Balibo killings of five foreign journalists will be brought up in a special session with the AG.
There will be separate negotiations between Peter Galbraith and Parameswaran with the DPR Commission to discuss issues related to bilateral ties and bilateral cooperation to foster reconciliation for the return of refugees from West Timor.
In response to questions on the opening of a diplomatic mission in Jakarta, Barbara said that was on the agenda of Foreign Minister Horta.
2. National Council Agrees In Principle Regulation For The Registration Of Political Parties (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page second lead)
The National Council agreed to adopt, in principle, the regulation on the registration of political parties in Timor Lorosae for the soon-to-be-held general election for the Constitutional Assembly, with certain reservations.
Agio Pereira, Head of the National Council’s Political Affairs Commission, tabled a motion that the NC accept the draft regulation for it to be reevaluated again by the Transitional Administrator’s office. Debate on the regulation continues on today.
The following six reservations were made by the Political Affairs Commission:
a) The draft regulation was not clear whether a candidate nominated by a political party could also stand as an independent. Because of this, the commission recommended that a candidate fielded at district level could not be fielded at national level.
b) The draft regulation did not have restrictions against members of the National Defense Forces (FDTL). Because of this, the commission recommended that if an FDTL member wanted to contest in the election, he had to leave the forces and become a civilian.
c) The draft regulation, also, did not have restrictions for public servants. Because of this, the commission recommended that public servants could take leave without pay and return to work if they did not get elected. If they did get elected, the commission recommends that they resign from their posts.
d) The code of conduct, as in the 3 February Cabinet Communiqué, stipulates that criminal action would be taken against a political party if it incites violence. No mention is made of taking action against candidates, as individuals.
e) The draft regulation does not have any mechanisms to ensure financial transparency in political parties.
f) The draft regulation does not have any reference to women. Because of this, the commission fears that the guarantee of 30 per cent for women candidates in the Constitutional Assembly would not be fulfilled.
3. “Political Party Leaders Cannot Have Dual Citizenships” (Timor Post, Front Page Top Box story)
The National Council is in serious debate with UNTAET about the question of citizenship. For UNTAET, it’s not a problem if a political leader has dual citizenship. There is also a debate on the issue of registration of residents. The following is an interview with Francisco Guterres, who is an important figure in the National Reconciliation Commission of Timor Lorosae:
TP: What are your comments about the plans of [former militia leader] Cansio Lopes Carvalho in wanting to come back to Timor Lorosae. Is it seen as a tactic to get himself and his followers registered as voters for the 2001 election?
Francisco Guterres (FG): I don’t look at it that way. But it is clear we have to have the general election. In March we have to begin the registration process, whether they come to Timor Lorosae or not. If they don’t come back home, they will lose their voice.
TP: Does this mean pro-autonomy supporters and ex-militias would lose their citizenship if they do not return home?
FG: Yes, they will lose their status as citizens. If they want to come back, after the elections, they must have some form of citizenship status.
TP: Would it be possible that these people only come back temporarily for the elections?
FG: Let’s put it this way: If they come we will make it very clear to them that they must make up their minds to be citizens of only one country either Timor Lorosae or Indonesia? If they want to take part in the elections they have to be Timor Lorosae citizens. If they wish to go back [to West Timor] after the elections, then they will be using their Timor Lorosae passports to get across the border. On reaching Indonesian territory, if they don’t want to come back then that’s their business.
TP: Do you agree if dual citizenship is allowed in Timor Lorosae?
FG: I do not agree with the idea that the East Timorese people can have dual citizenships. Let’s take an example of a leader who is a citizen of two countries and commits a crime related to, for instance, corruption. Knowing that he will be caught and hauled before a court of law, he decides to flee the country. We will be in trouble under such circumstances because we would have to go through extradition procedures etc.
My advice is this: If you don’t want to be a citizen of Timor Lorosae, then by all means be a citizen of another country. If you love Timor Lorosae, become a citizen of the country and give up your other citizenship. This is what I have been telling all my friends in Portugal, Australia and the United States.
They have been fighting for Timor Lorosae, but Timor Lorosae is now free. They now must return to their country.
TP: But what about East Timorese who are overseas and want to take part in the elections? Isn’t the criteria the same as the popular consultation in 1999? That’s what Peter Galbraith said.
FG: At the popular consultation, East Timor was a country, technically, without a ruler. So East Timorese, wherever they were in the diaspora could vote to determine its future.
Now we are talking about sovereignty and the general election and issues concerning the administration of a new country. If we are still taking about dual citizenships, I will be worried. This could create a lot of problems.
TP: So this means all leaders of political parties must have one citizenship?
FG: Yes, leaders of political parties and candidates who are about to be chosen to sit in parliament. All of them have to be citizens of only one country.
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