Subject: SMH: Sack incompetent minister, Gusmao tells Dili

Also: East Timor's Gusmao urges lawmakers to be more diligent

Sack incompetent minister, Gusmao tells Dili

By Jill Jolliffe in Dili November 29 2002 Sydney Morning Herald

President Xanana Gusmao has attacked East Timor's politicians, condemning the inefficiency and corruption of the Fretilin-dominated government and demanding that the Internal Affairs Minister, Rogerio Lobato, be sacked.

His comments, at a military parade to celebrate the 27th anniversary of East Timor's original and short-lived 1975 independence proclamation, came as the country goes through a period of instability.

Mr Gusmao said that although East Timor had won internationally recognised independence in May, "we are more dependent than ever, living from the power and skills of others".

"It is the sickness that affects many parties and newly independent countries - of inefficiency, corruption and political instability, where those who govern live well, and the people live in poverty.

"If independence belongs to all of us, and not just Fretilin, I demand that the Government dismisses Minister of Internal Affairs Rogerio Lobato, for reasons of incompetence and neglect."

As President, Mr Gusmao has limited executive powers, although his moral authority is high, while government popularity appears low. He was elected in April with 78 per cent of the national vote.

The Fretilin government of the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, was elected with a 57 per cent parliamentary majority in August last year.

Mr Lobato is responsible for police affairs, although the United Nations still maintains final control over police and defence forces. His critics say he is ambitious, and accuse him of provoking internal conflicts to enhance his power.

He has challenged police recruitment policies, saying former guerillas should be given priority, and is in conflict with the police commissioner, Paulo Martins. Mr Martins served with the Indonesian police force and is accused in some circles of being a collaborator, although his private support for the pro-independence resistance was well known.

The dispute over police recruitment policies has led to resentment of the police by resistance veterans.

A spate of recent assaults on police culminated on Monday with a mob attack on Baucau police station. Police opened fire on the demonstrators, shooting Calisto Soares, 25, in the head. He died on Wednesday in the UN hospital in Dili.

Tensions over unemployment contributed to the conflict; about 6000 people had applied for the 100 police jobs earmarked for veterans as a concession to Mr Lobato. The resignation of Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo on Tuesday has also contributed to the air of instability.

A rival independence celebration was held yesterday by about 3000 demonstrators, including uniformed former guerillas who had travelled to Dili from the countryside to agitate for the Government's dismissal

East Timor's Gusmao urges lawmakers to be more diligent 

DILI, East Timor (AP) _ President Xanana Gusmao on Thursday urged lawmakers to strive harder to help rebuild the newly independent country, warning that East Timor was still dependent on foreign aid.

Gusmao made the remarks in a speech to mark the anniversary of the former Portuguese colony's independence proclamation, which was made in 1975 shortly before Indonesian troops invaded the country.

It was the first public celebration since the country officially became independent on May 20.

``Many legislators do not come to parliament,'' Gusmao told around 500 government officials and foreign diplomats. ``There are a lot of regulations that have not been passed.''

East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Asia. Despite possessing sizable offshore gas reserves, it will be reliant on foreign aid for years to come. The country was under Portuguese colonial rule for 400 years before Indonesia occupied it in 1975. Shortly after a ballot for independence in August 1999, the United Nations took control of its administration until it achieved full independence.

Under Jakarta's iron-fisted rule, many educated East Timorese fled abroad. Some have since returned, but the country still lacks skilled administrators and civil servants.

``Even though we are free, we are still dependent on wealthy countries,'' Gusmao said. Meanwhile, around 1,000 anti-government protesters gathered in a downtown park.

Most of those in the crowd were unemployed former guerrillas, dissatisfied with the government's recruitment policies that have seen returning exiles take up administrative posts.

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