Subject: East Timor press headlines/6 March 2001

East Timor press headlines/6 March 2001

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines ­ Tuesday 6 March, 2001

(No publication on Monday due to a public holiday in Timor Lorosae)

  1. Xanana Gusmao: “I’m Not Dreaming To Be The First President of Timor Lorosae”
  2. 602 Refugees Die In West Timor
  3. Jose Reis (militia leader): “I Returned On My Own Free Will”
  4. Rights of Constituent Assembly Limited
  5. Xanana And The Lives Of The Timorese People (editorial)

1. Xanana Gusmao: “I’m Not Dreaming To Be The First President of Timor Lorosae” (Front Page headline)

The President of CNRT/CN stressed on Saturday that he had no dreams of becoming the first president of Timor Lorosae. According to Xanana, in order to lead the new country the first president had to be “fast and clever”.

“I don’t have dreams of becoming first president. The incoming president will be chosen by the party that wins the general election,” said Xanana when he answered questions at the CPD-RDTL Congress in Dili.

In a calm manner, Xanana said criticism has been heaped upon him in connection with the change of name of Falintil to FDTL (National Defense Forces), the recruitment of FDTL forces, and the presence of CNRT in the country’s political system.

Xanana told the CPD-RDTL Congress that he had relinquished his Falintil commander-in-chief position to Brigadier-General Taur Matan Ruak, who is now FDTL Commander.

Answering questions on Falintil’s involvement in business, Xanana said: “Most of the big businesses are fixing prices and making things expensive for the smaller people. So Falintil will sell things at lower prices and make them affordable for the poor.”

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2. 602 Refugees Die In West Timor (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page second lead)

Six-hundred and two East Timorese refugees have died from disease and other causes in the refugee camps in West Timor, since they were displaced from East Timor in September 1999.

Of the 602, about 70 refugees alone died from floods which hit the Malaka Tengah sub-district in Belu last May.

This data was obtained by STL from IOM and UNHCR at Atambua on Saturday.

In the meantime 609 refugees returned to East Timor on board the ship, Patricia Anne Hotung. They arrived in Dili in two batches ­ 502 on Saturday and 107 yesterday. Of the number, 210 were ex-TNI soldiers.

From Dili port, the refugees were trucked by IOM and UNHCR vehicles to the Tasitolu Transit Point ­ 6 kilometres west of Dili. There the refugees received food and other services from UNHCR. They also received medical treatment.

Of the 602 refugees, 297 were women and 305 men.

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3. Jose Reis: “I Returned On My Own Free Will” (Timor Post, Front Page second lead)

The deputy commander of the Saka militia team, Jose Manuel dos Reis, said his intention to return to Timor Lorosae was based on the wishes of the people in Baucau and he was not forced by anybody.

“I returned to Timor Lorosae after learning about the situation after meeting leaders from Falintil, CNRT, UNTAET and the Baucau Diocese. I returned to my village on my own free will,” said Jose at the Tasitolu Refugee Transit Center on Saturday.

Jose Reis was one of the 602 refugees on board the Patricia Ann Hotung.

He admitted that when it was learnt he was coming back home, the other militias started intimidating him.

“They might have felt insecure. But I had to return because my wife and child are in Timor Lorosae,” he said.

Jose Reis said there were militia members who wanted to remain in West Timor and there were those who wanted to return to Timor Lorosae to take part in the general election.

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4. Rights of Constituent Assembly Limited (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page third lead)

The draft for the Constituent Assembly was debated together with the National Council members and the Minister for Political Affairs Peter Galbraith at the NC Hall on Friday.

Peter Galbraith was questioned by NC members who believed that there were many issues not addresses by the draft.

One of them was the responsibilities of Constituent Assembly members. NC member Aniceto Guterres said the responsibilities were limited.

He said the National Council, which was not a creation of the people, was given more rights than the Constituent Assembly which will be created after an election.

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5. Xanana And The Lives Of The Timorese People (Suara Timor Lorosae editorial, Page 5)

“When still a leader, Xanana was always put on a high pedestal and portrayed as a saviour who would overcome all the problems Timor Lorosae is facing. Many East Timorese think Xanana is like a Jesus who would deliver them from their problems.

But Xanana is not Jesus. Xanana is an ordinary man like all of us and cannot work miracles. He too has his own human limitations.

But we must learn from Xanana advice. He has stressed that Timor Lorosae must be a respected country free from external threats and violence.

Xanana, at the moment, is an informal leader who is in no position to make political decisions that will bind the people.”

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